Tag Archive: War Films


Mai May Movies 2019!

Like I did, back in Year 2015 & 2016, I decided do a Blog Post on all the films I saw within this Month of May, 2019!!!!!

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The

Feature Films

The Front Page (1931)

Watched on Sunday Afternoon, 12th May 2019! Downloaded Film!

A Downloaded Movie, downloaded way back in July 2017! Have a load of Downloaded films, from July 2017, am yet to see!

The Front Page (1931) is an interesting satire centered around the Press. Earl Williams (George E. Stone), a Caucasian/white American man and supposed Communist revolutionary, claiming innocence, is convicted of killing an Afro-American cop, and is to be hanged. The court press room, situated right next to the gallows, is waiting to cash in on the latest, and cover the hanging of Earl Williams. Sometimes we see how desensitized reporters can be; for them it’s just the next story. But when the convict escapes, and is found by reporter, Hildy Johnson (Pat O’Brien); who’s about resign, get married and leave for New York, from Chicago; yet keeps getting roped in by his conniving editor, Walter Burns (Adolphe Menjou); and when Hildy Johnson realizes that Earl Williams is innocent; Hildy is hell bent on proving Earl Williams’ innocence. Of course, for Hildy, it still is the latest scoop, but he wants to save an innocent man’s life as well. A hilarious comical take on the world of news-reporters, based on the play, The Front Page, by two ex-Chicago reporters, Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, which was 1st staged on Broadway in 1928!

This 1931 pre-Code comedy, is a premake of Howard Hawks’ His Girl Friday (194O), minus the ‘Girl Friday’, as intended in the original Broadway play (a play I haven’t read yet). But His Girl Friday is far more an enjoyable romp than The Front Page. Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell had great chemistry in the 194O classic, as a formally married couple having to work together, and the wife, Hildy (Russell); in lieu of the male Hildy (gender swap) from the original story; constantly getting pulled in by her editor/ex-husband (Grant) and the candlestick phones that keep ringing off the hook, even though she wants to get away and get married to someone else. His Girl Friday is among the greatest comedies ever made. Reporting is in their blood, the love for the job, for both (female) Hildy in His Girl Friday and (male) Hildy in The Front Page. The Front Page‘s Hildy is actually named Hildebrand Johnson, and ‘Hildy’ is short for Hildebrand, an affectionate nickname.

Though The Front Page, directed by Lewis Milestone, is not pure excellence (not just compared to His Girl Friday, but in general); it still comes really close! A Near-Excellent, brisk, fast paced, romp with witty dialogues; that is a must watch; especially for fans of film and literature!!!!! This movie was nominated for a trio of Oscars (‘Best Picture’, ‘Best Director’ & ‘Best Actor’ – for Adolphe Menjou) at the 4th Academy Awards! Lewis Milestone had already won two ‘Best Director’ Oscars. One for Two Arabian Knights (1927), in the ‘Comedy’ category, and the other for one of my favourites films on World War I, a pre-Code anti-war film, All Quiet on the Western Front (1930).

The Front Page is a near-Excellent comedy!!!!

My Rating: 9/10!

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La Chienne (1931)

Watched on Sunday Night, 12th May 2019! On TV5MONDE!

Directed by Jean Renoir, La Chienne (1931) is about a depressed married man who falls for a streetwalker (the title, the English translation of which reads as ‘The Bitch’, is a reference to her character; a character that is both conniving and foolish) and has a clandestine affair with her. Lulu (the streetwalker played by Janie Marèse) however uses the man that loves her, Maurice Legrand (Michel Simon), for the man she is in love with, her pimp, Dédé (Georges Flamant); who in turn uses her using Legrand, for his own personal gain. Legrand’s artworks are sold by Dédé making Dédé rich; and leaving Legrand a penniless vagrant.

A really good socially critical look at human relationships, showcasing how selfishly people use one another for their own benefits! La Chienne might not be an excellent French film by Renoir, yet it’s a very good thought provoking movie, with a brilliant concept. The finalé is both tragic and comic, at the same time. The satirical state of fate of mankind.

Actress, Janie Marèse, who played Lulu, was tragically killed in a car accident, soon after the filming wrapped up. Marèse’s real life lover, and her co-star, Georges Flamant (who debuted as Dédé, in La Chienne) was recklessly driving the car. He survived the accident, but his career was seriously damaged by the press.

La Chienne, released few months after Marèse’s death, was director Jean Renoir 2nd Sound film (as in with synchronized sound)!

My Rating: 8/10!

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Drums Along the Mohawk (1939)

Watched on Monday, 6th May 2019! Downloaded Film!

John Ford’s very 1st movie made in Technicolor, Drums Along the Mohawk (1939) was the 1st movie I watched this month (another Downloaded Movie, from almost two years ago).

Produced by Darryl F. Zanuck, this Historical story, is about a newly married couple who make a new home close proximity to White settlers at Mohawk Valley on the New York frontier and find themselves at the heart of the American Revolution of 1765 – 1783.

The Year is 1776, the newly married couple get roped in by Mohawk Valley’s settlers who’ve formed a local militia in anticipation of an imminent war against them, by Tories (British loyalists) and Tories’ American Indian allies. Soon war ensues, with women and children lending a helping hand. A crucial point of the plot is the Battle of Oriskany, a pivotal engagement of the Saratoga campaign, which was one of the bloodiest battles of the American Revolution. A small group of Brits, travelling south from Canada, invaded the Mohawk Valley as a diversion. Fort Stanwix, that was besieged, is depicted as Fort Schuyler in the film. Fort Stanwix was renamed Fort Schuyler in 1776, only after the battle. Plus, Britishers hand in the war, has been toned down, it’s practically non-existent. Apparently there are lot of minor inaccuracies. Especially, due to the brewing war in Europe at the time, Ford didn’t want to show the British as villains, as the Brits were fighting against German Nazis, the modern day villains, in a modern day war.

Though lacking in historical accuracy, the movie does manage to capture the essence of the American Revolution, through retelling of a small deviation branch of the war. Thus, it’s still a really good movie, led by Henry Fonda and Claudette Colbert. The colourful cinematography is breathtakingly beautiful, and the movie was nominated for two Oscars, including for ‘Best Cinematography’ (in Colour), to Ray Rennahan and Bert Glennon, at the 12th Academy Awards, held in 1940. Ray Rennahan was also nominated, the same year, for ‘Best Cinematography’ (in Colour), alongwith Ernest Haller; for (1939), for which Rennahan and Haller, won!! With the exceptional Gone with the Wind, in competition, it’s obvious that Drums Along the Mohawk didn’t have much scope. None the less, it’s still a really good movie.

My Rating: 8/10

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The

Short Films

Dream House (1953)

Watched on Friday, 10th May 2019! Online on YouTube!

Dream House (1953) is a short Indian English-Language Film, starring Ashok Kumar and Meena Kumari. An advertorial film from Dunlopillo, UK (a popular brand for pillows and mattresses in India at the time; which Kumar happens to have in his stylishly decorated home). I came across this beautifully filmed short flick by fluke, that Friday night! Shot inside Ashok Kumar’s house, with cool contemporary Indian interior design (love the décor), as Meena Kumari visits (for they’ve been rehearsing for director Bimal Roy’s Parineeta (1953) a.k.a. The Fiancee; based on a book by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay (sometimes credited as Sarat Chandra Chatterji), a beautiful novel; of which the English translation I read quite recently, maybe ’twas a year or so ago); this quick, less than 3 minutes, short film, is really worth checking out; especially for lovers of Indian cinema; specifically lovers of Bollywood classics from it’s golden age. It was lovely to see a barely 20 year old, Meena Kumari, in a colour film; back in the early 50’s. Seen her colour movies from later on (60’s & early 70’s); but never seen her in colour, when she was so young. Though she’s a good actress and was known as the tragedy queen, back in her hey days, am not a great fan of hers; unlike her contemporaries; like, Nutan, Nargis, Vyjayanthimala, Waheeda Rehman and Madhubala (to name a few Hindi Film actresses of the 1950’s & 60’s, that I adore). But I do admire Kumari in the movies she’s worked in. So it’s not like I dislike her, just not a starry-eyed favourite of mine. Young, Meena Kumari, looks elegantly beautiful in this advertorial short, in a red saree, with a fashionable high-collared blouse!

My Rating: 8/10!

Stars of the Foxy 50’s: Madhubala (1933-1969) and Meena Kumari (1933-1972)
LEFT: Candid shot of Madhubala (51′)
RIGHT: Meena Kumari in a scene from a movie (57′)

Feature Films

Mr. & Mrs. ’55 (1955)

Watched on Tuesday, 28th May 2019! Online on YouTube!

Guru Dutt’s Mr. & Mrs. ’55 (1955) is a hilarious farce, that works well to a certain point, but soon goes downhill.

The movie starts off with Pre-60’s Independent-minded Feminist, Seeta Devi (Lalita Pawar), holding a meeting on petitioning the courts to pass the Divorce Bill. Her secretary informs her, showing her the latest newspaper headline, that the Divorce Bill shall be passed. It’s a woman’s right, if she needs to separate from a bad husband/marriage! Meanwhile her niece, not yet 21, Anita Verma (Madhubala) has secretly gone to see a Tennis match. She has a major crush on Tennis player, Ramesh (a Guest Appearance by Al-Nasir), who does not reciprocate. As Anita tries to escape her aunt’s secretary, who has come to find her at the Tennis match, Anita bumps into a lazy wayward man, Preetam Kumar (Guru Dutt), who at once is smitten by her. Soon, we see Anita turn 21, and is to inherit her late father’s fortune; but according to his will she has to get married within a month of turning 21. The independent-minded aunt isn’t happy, the young girl with a crush on a tennis player, is. But when Ramesh turns down her proposal for marriage, she is crushed. Yet, the fact he plays Tennis is what she truly loves, not necessarily the player. If he didn’t play her favourite sport, she wouldn’t be so crazy about him. The aunt decides to buy a groom, who’ll agree to a divorce, once Anita inherits everything. Who does the aunt rope in, but none other than the jobless cartoonist, Anita accidentally bumped into early on in the movie; beloved, Preetam Kumar. The name ‘Preetam’ in Hindi means beloved.

The movie is laugh out loud hilarious, and the characters have been placed perfectly. Less than a year into Independence, the modern Indian progressive minded city’s educated and elite are beautifully showcased. The movie has some memorable songs, some not so; mostly picturized around Guru Dutt and/or Madhubala. But my favourite number is the comical song, “Jaane kahan mera, jigar gaya ji”, themed around the supporting characters played by Johnny Walker and Yasmin (a.k.a. Vinita Bhatt); during a lunch break at a clerical office. Hilarious, melodic and fun. Mr. & Mrs. ’55 starts to waver when Preetam kidnaps his wife and takes her to his village (today, that would be considered harassment, in itself). In the village she meets Preetam’s sister-in-law (played by Kumkum), who shows how a woman’s place is in her husband’s home, doing all the chores, having kids and taking care of them. An acceptance of domestic violence against wife as being the norm, is mentioned. So basically women have no rights. Cringe worthy. Let’s say it’s village mentality; but soon Anita, who falls for husband during this excursion (lets say a Stockholm syndrome of sorts) starts to feel the same way, and Seeta Devi, with a brain of her own, is shown as the villain of piece. Seriously?? Guru Dutt!?!?! This is when the movie starts to falter. Of course, this pre-second wave feminism, feminist, Seeta Devi, is shown to be a bit of an extremist; hating all men; but instead of providing a moderation, director Guru Dutt has brought out a narrow minded concept that the Indian woman’s place is at her husband’s feet. The other archaic extreme, with a false sense of patriotism. That’s when it disappoints. Mr. & Mrs. ’55 was considered a movie of societal relevance, back then. But it gives such a false message. So, out of the over 21⁄2 hours film, the 1st hour or so is brilliantly excellent, and continues being enjoyably fun for the most part for the next half hour, but falls short towards the last hour.

The 50’s housewife concept existed in the west too (the famed American Dream); but it’s not something artists/open-minded intellectuals condoned. Hollywood never glamorized portraying women to stoop so low. It’s as if, if anyone’s seen Mona Lisa Smile (2003), Julia Roberts’ free-thinking Art Professor were Seeta Devi, and she was shown as the villain of the piece. Mr. & Mrs. ’55 also reminded me of another Bollywood movie, that we watched a kazillion times as kids, Chhoti si Mulaqat (1967). It didn’t fare well with 60’s audiences either. But even though it did seem to some extent pro-wife’s place is at her husband’s home; it wasn’t this extreme, and was actually a very good plot and a near-Excellent movie. It dealt with child marriage, the mental dilemma of the bride as a grown up when she’s reminded of it, as she is about to wed the man she loves, and the modern Indian woman of the 60’s. Her mother is a very progressive woman; against whose knowledge the daughter was wed as child. But in a sense, to some extent, the movie does portray the mother as the villain of the piece. Yet, the plus side is, when the daughter (mostly out of curiosity) defies her mum, and decides that she should be with her husband (a husband she never knew); the husband turns out to be the man she falls in love with as an adult. Luckily! So all’s well, saved by a thread. At least, in the case of Chhoti si Mulaqat, her husband didn’t remain a village idiot, he grew up, studied, became a modern open-minded individual and came up to her standard; and earned his place, in her heart and her social circle. In Mr. & Mrs. ’55, Guru Dutt’s character is still pretty narrow-minded, even though he is a good guy and truly loves her. She definitely deserves better. It ends with the feeling, she’ll be his ideal Indian wife (like his sister-in-law), though it’s doubtful she’ll have to endure physical abuse by Mister ‘Beloved’. But the movie overall isn’t bad, just not great; ruined by that foolishness of where a woman’s place lies; and to some extent a hint against divorce and the Divorce Bill, itself.

In India, before 1955, divorce was not recognized by the Hindus, as according to the Hindu religion marriage is sacrament and not a contract. But with the codification of the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955, both men and women (of Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh and Jain, faith) are equally eligible to seek divorce. In Muslim societies, anywhere in general, the husband could divorce his wife for no reason, without a hitch, while for a wife it wasn’t an easy task to get a divorce, in some cases, not at all. The Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act of 1939 made amendments for Muslim women in India to obtain divorce, comparatively easier. Christian marriages were (and still are) governed by Victorian era implemented, The Divorce Act of 1869, Parsis by the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act of 1936, and Inter-racial/religious marriages The Special Marriage Act of 1954! The Hindu Marriage Act in 1955, was implemented on 18th May 1955. Mr. & Mrs. ’55, released the same year, was an acknowledgement of Modern India’s Hindu Marriage Act in 1955, from which the title of the movie was derived. But unfortunately, the hints on the fact that women should succumb to their man’s needs; even though the man in the movie is not a bad man, is still a bit too of an archaic mentality, even for that time. To show that women should succumb to blindly follow traditional values, is a major step backwards. A pity, such a fun flick, with such witty dialogues.

Guru Dutt’s character is a cartoonist, and the cartoons shown in the film were by R. K. Laxman; a style of drawing I recognized instantly, as I watched the film. In one scene, we see a hand drawing a caricature of Lalita Pawar, Guru Dutt and Madhubala. That’s obviously R. K. Laxman’s unaccredited hand. R. K. Laxsman’s creations were another plus for me.

Thus, Mr. & Mrs. ’55, was only averagely good, that too mainly thanks to the hilarious performance by bewitching beauty, Madhubala; and the brilliant, Lalita Pawar. Worth checking out. Even though the latter part, with it’s backward concept, along with the ending, sucked. Mr. & Mrs. ’55 was one of earliest Hindi movies to show an airport reunion, which was done to death, in much later Bollywood films.

Last movie I watched this month (May 2019).

My Rating: 6/10!

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Postscript:

All three stars mentioned here, Guru Dutt, Madhubala and Meena Kumari, died way before their time. Nicknamed, Tragedy Queen, Meena Kumari; who fought off depression and alcohol abuse, finally succumbed cirrhosis of the liver. She fell into a coma and soon left this world, on 31st March 1972, aged 38. The egoistic Guru Dutt; a truly great filmmaker (he has a better filmography than Mr. & Mrs. ’55) unhappily married to Geeta Dutt, and suffering from an Othello syndrome, finally committed suicide on 10th October 1964, after a couple of failed prior attempts. He was only 39 years old.

Born on Valentine’s Day, 1933, Madhubala, at a young age found out she had a hole in her heart (Ventricular septal defect), and won’t live that long. She completed many of her films by 1959, before her illness aggravated. She continued working while suffering through her illness, but by 1966 she was too weak, and could not finish her project, Chalak, co-starring Raj Kapoor. Chalak never saw the light of day. Mostly bedridden from weakening bones and spewing blood, she tried her hand at film direction. However her directorial debut with, Farz aur Ishq, was not meant to be. Ultimately succumbing to her illness, she died on 23rd February 1969, shortly after her 36th birthday; during the pre-production of Farz aur Ishq. Madhubala was admired in both senses, as a sex symbol of 50’s Bollywood (she was called Marilyn Monroe of Hindi Cinema), as well as one of the finest actresses of her time (she too has a way better résumé than Mr. & Mrs. ’55). Madhubala, also almost made it to Hollywood. Both, Life magazine’s James Burke, and American Film Director, Frank Capra, were impressed by her looks and work. James Burke clicked her pictures in 1951, and captioned them, “The Biggest Star in the World – and she’s not in Beverly Hills”. Frank Capra offered Madhubala a break into Hollywood and true international fame, but her father, worried about his sickly daughter travelling so far, politely declined the rich offer of her earning American dollars. Her Hollywood dream ended, then and there. Sad, none of them lived to be 40! Tragic!

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The 70’s

Feature Films

The Last Detail (1973)

Watched on Thursday, 23rd May 2019! Downloaded Film!

The Last Detail (1973) is a sad road trip where two Navy Chasers escort a kleptomaniac to prison. The young man is sentenced for 8 years, for the petty crime of stealing just $40! Good concept, sad story, but such a dull paced movie, it truly was a bore. The only saving grace were the acting talent roped in, including a virtually unknown Randy Quaid, at the time. Jack Nicholson is really good, as always, but did he really deserve to win a ‘Best Actor’ award at the Cannes Film Festival??????

Very Bad! Feel like dozing off, just writing about it.

My Rating: 3/10!

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The White Buffalo (1977)

Watched on Thursday, 9th May 2019! Downloaded Film!

A Western-cum-Adventure film produced by Dino De Laurentiis, The White Buffalo (1977) is another boring waste of time, made in the 70’s decade, that I saw this month. I’d say stay away from this film as well, though it’s not among the worst films ever made. This silly flick is actually beautifully shot in Colorado with it’s snow capped Mountains! What brilliant Cinematography!

Kim Novak has a small role it it! In a sense she’s the only interesting character, besides that ‘White Buffalo’ itself.

My Rating: 4/10!

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This Decade (2010’s)

Documentaries

Roger Vadim with 3rd wife, actress, Jane Fonda; seen here along with her brother, actor, Peter Fonda, in a water taxi in the Venice lagoon, in 1967

Room 237 (2012)

Watched on Saturday, 11th May 2019! Downloaded Film!

Room 237 (2012) is an analysis, with varied speculative theories, behind Stanley Kubrick’s Horror classic, The Shining (1980). Some interesting views through use of symbolism in the movie, but most are crazily extreme. The story of the cinematic version of The Shining (as the original story was a novel written by Stephen King, which apparently differs a lot from it’s cinematic adaptation; and in fact one theorist points out how Kubrick purposely kills off King’s vision, and hints on it in The Shining) metaphorically representing the Holocaust, and the Genocide of American Indians, makes sense, to some extent. BUT, the Apollo 11 Moon landing footage was fake, and directed by Stanley Kubrick (a ridiculous theory I’ve heard of from way before this movie was made), is going way too extreme. Of course, this crazed theorist, who compares the Kubrick’s Horror flick, to a 3D chess set, with various levels, states that he isn’t saying that the Moon Landing didn’t happen, just that the footage was fake. Quite ridiculous, with no factual proof to back his theories, and there won’t be (I sure hope not!). Capricorn One (1977) was a movie about a similar concept of a hoax. A film about NASA faking a Mars mission. In Minions (2015), there is a funny scene, where a Minion stumbles upon the set, where Stanley Kubrick is filming the Apollo 11 Moon landing; an obvious nod to this crazy documentary. The Apollo 11 Moon landing happened on 20th of July, 1969 (see my post The Greatest feat of the Space age: The day humans conquered the moon from July 2013). This year marks it’s 50th anniversary!!!!

So basically, Room 237, is a bunch of Kubrick crazed film fanatics, with unnecessarily extreme analysis, reading way too much into the classic psychological horror movie. Don’t expect an intelligent insight into The Shining, these are just mere observations. None the less, Room 237, is not a bad documentary. It’s average fare at the best. Check it out if you like, it’s watchable after all; especially if you are fan of . YET, watch Room 237, with a beach full of salt, a pinch won’t be enough!!!

My Rating: 6/10!

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Vadim, Mister Cool (2016)

Watched on Sunday Late Night, 26th May 2019! On TV5MONDE!

Vadim, Mister Cool (2016), chronicles the life of Roger Vadim, step by step, perfectly spending just enough time on each stage of his life! From him as a Film Producer/Director/Screenwriter, to a husband, a family man, his success and his downfall. Roger Vadim was notoriously known for sexploitation of his beautiful wives/life partners; but much as he himself feels, in a sense he liberated them from the confines of anti-sexual notions. This was before the sexual-revolution of the 60’s. And each wife/partner left him, once they made it as a sex siren, but becoming something far greater in the end. Yet he did give them that necessary push. 1st wife-Brigitte Bardot (a.k.a. B.B.), partner – Catherine Denueve and 3rd wife – Jane Fonda; all started off as sex symbols of the 50’s & 60’s, under him, and went onto do great work, as actresses, as well as in other fields. B.B. later became an Animal Rights Activist, Deneuve, one the greatest actresses of French Cinema, and Jane Fonda a political activist against the Vietnam War, Nixon administration as well as a fitness guru and actress of very influential American films. At the start of this year (on 4th of January, 2019), I saw Jane Fonda in Five Acts (2018), on HBO On Demand; a brilliant documentary with Jane Fonda herself speaking about her life and life choices. And of course, she speaks of her sex-siren days as Vadim’s wife, as well.

Both Roger Vadim’s success and downfall are credited to French New Wave Director, François Truffaut, who use to be a film critic for the Cahiers du Cinéma. Truffaut, though initially a fan, was mainly critical Vadim’s sexploitation of the fairer sex. But say what you may; whether Roger Vadim help liberate his women from societal pressures of the past, or was a notorious exploiter of women’s sexuality; he was a doting father. He not only adored his kids, but was a hands on father who took care of them. A stay at home dad, role reversal, while his wives went away for work. He was a feminist, in every sense of it. And his women admired him, and some are truly grateful for helping make their career, or at least give them a start. A push in the right direction. Roger Vadim was truly a fascinating personality.

Vadim, Mister Cool, is a Brilliant Television documentary, and great insight into a man’s life, both professional and personal. Loved it! This documentary was shown soon after Carré 35 (2017) ended, on the same cable television channel; TV5MONDE!

Excellent TV Documentary, one of the Best!!!!!!!
My Rating: 10/10!

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Carré 35 (2017)

Watched on Sunday Night, 26th May 2019! On TV5MONDE!

A very personal documentary, by actor, Éric Caravaca. This is the first documentary Caravaca directed. In Carré 35 (2017) Éric Caravaca speaks of a sister, he never knew existed. A sister that died before he was born. Researching his roots, his background, Éric Caravaca discovers his parents life in Algeria and Morocco, of a birth of sister, with autism and a congenital heart defect (back then known as Blue Baby Syndrome), and her ultimate death that his parents hid from him and his brother. This was before Caravaca’s parents came to Europe, and erased the life they had before, including burning all photos and film footage they had of his elder sister, Christine. The parents never spoke about her. Christine was buried in ‘Carré 35’, the French part of the cemetery in Casablanca, Morocco. Caravaca’s mother had never visited the grave. Having suffered a lot, she didn’t want to reminisce on her past. Towards the end of the documentary we see her finally visiting her baby girl’s grave.

A really tragic story where he interviews and (as his mother feels) interrogates his parents, and other relatives, trying to get the truth behind the secret history of his family’s hidden past. Heart-rending! Rather than doing an analysis of a film that in itself is an analysis of Éric Caravaca background, I’ll simply say, its must watch. Carré 35 was part of a series of Special Programs shown on TV5MONDE, in connection with Festival de Cannes 2019 (I couldn’t follow this year’s festival properly). Éric Caravaca was nominated for L’Œil d’Or (Golden Eye) Award, for Carré 35, English Title- Plot 35, at the 70th International Cannes Film Festival,held in May 2017.

My Rating: 8/10!

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Short Films

Uuquchiing (2018)

Watched on Tuesday Night, 14th May 2019! On TV5MONDE!

This short film was telecast soon after Chouf (2016) ended, on TV5MONDE itself.

Uuquchiing (2018), the title means ‘Blue Fox’ in the Inuit language of the Alaskan/Canadian/Greenland Eskimo. The movie is akin to The Butterfly Effect (2004) where a young Evan Treborn (Logan Lerman as the 7year old Evan & John Patrick Amedori as the 13 year old Evan) suffers blackouts and no memory of what happened during his blackout. Similarly here,in Uuquchiing, we see Camille (Johan Libéreau) having no recollection of how he got from one place to another, with no memory of what happened in between. But sadly this short film has such an abrupt sexual ending and no explanation of what happened and why?, it just left a bad taste in the end. You wonder what it was all about!?!?!

My Rating: 3/10!

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Feature Films

12 Years a Slave (2013)

Watched on Monday, 27th May 2019! Downloaded Film!

One of the finest films ever made. Steve McQueen has proven he’s one of the greatest filmmakers of our generation, with this Oscar winning epic masterpiece, 12 Year a Slave (2013). Finally got to see this movie. Had wanted to see it since it came out in 2013, and was even more interested when in won the Oscar for ‘Best Picture’ at the 86th Annual Academy Awards. Managed to download it almost two years ago, and finally, saw it this Monday. I still have so many films, downloaded close to two year ago, from back in July 2017.

The movie follows the true story of Solomon Northup (on whose book this movie is based on), a free Afro-American man from New York State; who conned into travelling to Washington,D.C., and then drugged by two white con-men, and sold into slavery, from where he was sent to work in the plantations of Louisiana, in the deep south. This was in 1841! For 12 years, Solomon Northup (played with excellence, by British actor of Igbo Nigerian decent, Chiwetel Ejiofor) suffers and struggles to keep himself alive through all the atrocities perpetrated on him by a sadistic slave owner (played by Michael Fassbender, another performer of excellent talent). Northup finally gets a chance to tell his story to a good Samaritan, a Canadian laborer and abolitionist, named Samuel Bass (Brad Pitt) when Northup accidentally, by luck, mentions he’s been to Canada. Such a tragic story.

Lupita Nyong’o, has a small, but crucial role in 12 Years a Slave; for which she won the ‘Best Supporting Actress’ Oscar. Been a fan of Nyong’o since she won the prestigious Golden statuette, even though I hadn’t seen any of her films, including 12 Years a Slave. I liked her personality that shone through, whenever and wherever, she was either interviewed or photographed. But, I wondered whilst watching this, as good as she was in this movie (and she definitely deserved the nomination); was she the best that year?? I actually liked Jennifer Lawrence’s performance in American Hustle (2013) much more, who was nominated in the same category as well.

None the less,12 Years a Slave, is among the greatest Hollywood films ever made. It was so long, the film ended way past midnight; it was like 00:40 am, when it finished, and around 1:00 a.m. on 28th May 2019, when I finally went to bed! ‘Twas totally worth it!!

Pure Excellence!!!!! The Best Movie, I saw this month!! May 2019!
My Rating: 10/10!

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Postscript:

Speaking of the following year’s Academy Awards, am surprised Abdellatif Kechiche’s La Vie d’Adèle (2013), English Title: Blue Is the Warmest Color, was not even nominated in the ‘Best Foreign Language’ category at the 2014 Oscars!!!! In fact both lead actresses, Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos, deserved to be nominated in the ‘Best Actress’ category as well (as neither was a supporting character), if not share a win. Blue Is the Warmest Color, won Palme d’Or at the 66th Cannes Film Festival, held in May 2013. For the very 1st time in the competition, both the lead actresses were awarded the Palme d’Or, along with the film’s director, Abdellatif Kechiche. 12 Years a Slave is definitely a brilliant bio-pic, and I loved it, but I feel this French film, was slightly better.

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Chouf (2016)

Watched on Tuesday Evening, 14th May 2019! On TV5MONDE!

Chouf (2016) literally meaning to “look” in Arabic, is a French film set within the drug cartels of Marseilles. In a Godfatherique style (à la The Godfather, 1972) the lead character, Sofian (played bu namesake, Sofian Khammes), a young man with a genius brain, an intelligent student, comes home for the holidays; and when a loved one gets shot, his whole world changes. In this case, unlike the The Godfather, Sofian joins the drug network to avenge his brother’s death; leaving behind his family and the progressive life, with a good education, he had hoped to be part of. His brother was a local gangster, a drug dealer, and is killed by another member of their secret network. We see Sofian getting dragged deeper and deeper into a life of crime, with no scope of an exit, as he tries to find out who was responsible for his brother’s death.

A really good movie, by Karim Dridi, who does not shy away from realistically showing us life in the French ghettos of Marseilles. Plus, the film, to some extent predictably, shows us how difficult it is too get away and lead a normal life, once someone gets deeply immersed into drug gangs in the brutally dangerous slum areas of Marseilles. Dridi’s Chouf, was released under the Special Screenings at the 69th International Cannes Film Festival held in May 2016.

Chouf too, like Carré 35, was shown as part of a series of Special Programs telecast on TV5MONDE, this month, in connection with Festival de Cannes 2019!!!!

My Rating: 8/10!

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Rutabaga (2018)

Watched on Monday, 13th May 2019! Online on iflix!

Director, Julien Botzanowsk’s horror flick, Rutabaga (2018) seemed to work till a certain point; but then it got ridiculously silly! The end was so stupid. Yet, I did like Botzanowsk’s naturalistic film direction as well as the acting talent roped in, including Julien Botzanowski, himself. But the movie itself was a waste of time, for me.

Interesting to note, 11 days after I saw and tweeted about it (as I tweet about every single movie; the Great, the Bad, the Hideous); I got a message, as a comment here on my Blog, by the director/lead actor of the movie (see my About page), thanking me. After all I did mention, on my tweet as well, that I liked his technique and talent, though not a fan of the cinematic outcome. This is not the 1st time, I got comments from the films directors; twice before two young french directors (Rocco Labbé and Sylvain Bressollette) wrote to me, once I blogged about their short films (see my Blog Posts, Portraits de Maîtresses: Rocco Labbé’s take on Charles Baudelaire, Le Ballon de Rouge (2012/2014) and Young Directors on my BLOG from December 2013, June 2014 & October 2014 respectively). Amazingly all three film directors happen to be French! What lovely, down to earth, good people to write to an odinary blogger/twitterian, like me. None the less, Rutabaga, was not a good movie; but again, Julien Botzanowsk is one to watch out for. Wishing him the best!

My Rating: 1/10

La Révolte des Innocents ()

Watched on Tuesday, 21st May 2019! On TV5MONDE!

Really good movie, based on a real incident!

Théo Frilet plays The Brave Judge, the English title of, La Révolte des Innocents (2018) though not the literal meaning. Set in France, in 1911, in an institute that’s gets a stipend from the government to educate poor children. The kids are not given an education, instead they are made to work, abused and exploited, by the keepers! The story is based on Louise Soliveau and Alexandre Landrin, who’ve been renamed, Joséphine Poliveau (played by Julie Ferrier) and Armand Sandrin (played by Bruno Debrandt) in this television movie. When a 10 year old child dies, under their care; the rest of the kids revolt. When the revolt is reported, this incident slowly starts to shed light on what has been happening at Les Vermiraux, the institute. A young judge, Emile Guidon () takes action and against all obstacles, facing lot of objections, keeps on going till the perpetrators, whose ill treatment and negligence led to the death of a child, are brought to justice.

This is a really good insight into a real life Dickensian Boarding house run by ruthless money hungry bigwigs that abused innocent children!  La Révolte des Innocents, ended past midnight; but just some minutes onto 22nd May 2019!

My Rating: 8/10!

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Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

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Hattie mcDaniel as Mammy in Gone with the Wind (1939)

If Americans think that one of the biggest racial issues Trumpland is facing today, is the viewing of Gone with the Wind (1939); they’ve totally gone BONKERS!!

The Orpheum Theatre, in Memphis, Tennessee; recently pulled out the showing of this iconic Hollywood epic, on the grounds it was too insensitive for modern audiences. That’s soooo stupid. Are they insane??? Gone with the Wind, especially taking into account the time period it was made in (minus modern day technical wizardry), happens to be one of the greatest Hollywood creations ever. Plus, it’s my second favourite film ever (pls also see my post My Favourite movie by decade, My Favourite Oscar Winner per decade from March 2014; and my list of critiques Why I love …. from November/December 2012 on IMDB)

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From movies released last year, 2016; I’ve only seen 12 of them so far; 9 of them within last year itself; and only 2 on the Big Screen; from the rest, except for a couple of them, that I watched online, on iflix, the others were on cable TV (either On Demand, or a foreign television channel)!! Here are the Best to the Bad!!!!!

Left: Sonam Kapoor as Neerja Bhanot in Neerja (2016) Right: The late Neerja Bhanot

Left: Sonam Kapoor as Neerja Bhanot in Neerja (2016)
Right: The late Neerja Bhanot

1. Neerja (2016) – Excellent: 10/10!

In 1985, Pan Am (Pan American World Airways) began an all Indian cabin crew for its India/Pakistan/West Germany routes. Neerja Bhanot was the Head Purser, of Pan Am Flight 73, when hijackers attacked the flight, on the 5th September, 1986.

The Pan Am flight had reached the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, Pakistan, from India, that morning. Carrying 380 passengers on board, the flight was on it’s way to Frankfurt, West Germany, and was to travel to New York, USA. As the flight was ready to close it’s doors, at the Jinnah International Airport, four armed Palestinian men of the terrorist organisation, known as ANO (Abu Nidal Organisation), forced their way into the aircraft; disguised as security officers escorting a Libyan diplomat. The brave Neerja Bhanot, quickly warned the trio of pilots, who, following protocol, escaped through an overhead hatch in the cockpit. Thus, making sure the plane does not leave the tarmac. Neerja, though terrified, along with other attendants, hid American passports, so that the ANO couldn’t differentiate, Americans from non-Americans, as the terrorists were specifically targeting Americans. After 17 hours, of their demands being unheard, the terrorists went crazy, and opened fire on all passengers. Neerja Bhanot quickly opened the emergency exit, and managed to save the lives of 360 passengers on board (20 others were killed), and 19 crew members. Bhanot made sure, all the people, who were still alive had escaped, without saving herself first. Ultimately she sacrificed her life, saving the lives of three children, as she shielded them from gunfire. She died of gunshot wounds, just a couple of days, before her 23rd birthday.

Sonam Kapoor does justice to the role of Neerja Bhanot!! Kapoor was spot on. In an interview, when Kapoor was asked, whether she is looking forward to winning the ‘Best Actress’ trophy at the Filmfare Awards, this year; she replied, that she didn’t know, for that was not the reason, she did this movie. None the less, she deservedly won the Critics’ Award, for ‘Best Actress’ at the 62nd Filmfare Awards, held earlier this month. However she lost out in the popular vote, for ‘Best Actress’. The movie altogether won six awards, including the Critics’ Award, for ‘Best Director’ (for Ram Madhvani), the ‘Best Supporting Actress’ trophy (for Shabana Azmi) and ‘Best Production Design’ (for Aparna Sud). The Production Design was truly superb, the way they replicated the whole Pan Am Flight 73, by making the model of the flight and it’s interiors, to perfection. It looked like an actual plane, on the tarmac.

This tragic story, is a must see. A perfect tribute, to the late Neerja Bhanot (1963-1986)!! Bhanot, an ordinary girl, not your conventional super heroine; but when put in an extraordinary situation, showed an inner human bravery, under fear. Also see my mini-write up on Facebook’s AHC page (Link:- https://www.facebook.com/search/str/%2523nuwansensfilmsense/keywords_search?filters_rp_author=stories-feed&filters_rp_creation_time=%7B%22start_month%22%3A%222016-03%22%2C%22end_month%22%3A%222016-03%22%7D)!!

Watched Neerja, on the Big Screen, early last year (in March 2016)!!

Here’s to Neerja Bhanot, an innocent girl, a film buff, a model, an abused wife, a divorcée, an air hostess, and most of all, a humanitarian; who put others before herself! Bhanot was posthumously awarded the Ashoka Chakra Award, India’s highest peacetime military decoration award, for valour, courageous action or self-sacrifice, away from the battlefield. She was the youngest, and first female, recipient of this award. She received various more awards, posthumously; for her bravery, her loyalty to her passengers, and humanity.

2. Kapoor & Sons (2016) – Excellent: 10/10!

A fun filled family film, with a gay character. Bollywood is becoming more progressive. It’s a beautiful family movie, about a dysfunctional family, that get together to celebrate, the family patriarch’s, 90th Birthday; post recovery from a heart attack. A lot of drama, secrets, pain, romance and comedy, unfold; into a complex family reunion. With a great ensemble cast, the movie is made in a way, that the whole family can enjoy; from tiny tots to the elderly!! Just loved this Dharma Productions, movie, directed by Shakun Batra.

The Film won five trophies, at this year’s Filmfare Awards; including one for the legendary, Rishi Kapoor; who deservedly won, in the ‘Best Supporting Actor’ category. 64 year old Kapoor, played the 90 year old, head of the house, with perfection; in this movie.

Watched Kapoor & Sons, last year, when it was shown on the Indian cable channel, Colors (July 2016).

3. PINK (2016) – Excellent: 10/10!

“No means No!”, utters Amitabh Bachchan’s character; as he defends three girls (one of whom was molested), when the trio are charged with prostitution and attempted murder by the male culprits.

This is a brilliant Art House film, an excellent courtroom drama, and a women’s rights advocacy. Amitabh Bachchan proves, he is still the best actor around, in the aesthetic world of films. Bachchan plays a retired lawyer; taking care of his ailing wife, while suffering from his own health issues; who takes up this case, pro bono; for the sake of three innocent victims, who are being charged with a crime, and not the other way round. He does it for justice, and a woman’s right to refuse sexual advances.

Amitabh Bachchan lost out, in the ‘Best Actor’ category, to Aamir Khan. I haven’t seen Dangal (2016); for which Kahn won the Filmfare Award, earlier this month; but the 74 year old, Big B (i.e. Mr. Bachchan), was phenomenal, in PINK.

Watched PINK, late last year, on another Indian channel, Star Plus (November 2016)

4. Confirmation (2016) – Excellent: 10/10!

From one fictional tale of sexual abuse, to another based on a real incident. Though in this case the abuse might be merely verbal, and not of a physical nature; it is still a case of abuse of power, and gender discrimination.
confirmation-2016This movie deals with the ‘Clarence Thomas Supreme Court nomination’ of 1991; when a law professor, Anita Hill; who had previously worked under Clarence Thomas; was asked to ‘confirm’ her allegations of sexual harassment, against Thomas. Another sad, excellent film, with an unsettling ending, for both the protagonist’s of the movie. Kerry Washington is superb as Hill, who is initially reluctant to come forward.

Watched this television drama, Confirmation, when it was shown on the cable channel, HBO Signature (July 2016).

5. Tere Bin Laden: Dead or Alive (2016) – Near Excellent: 9/10!

A hilarious piece of satire, set during Obama’s presidency, dealing with; making a false proof, of the actual; Osama’s death. Not amongst the greatest comedies ever, but I couldn’t stop laughing. The movie was really enjoyable. Thus, I think I’ve given it a tad higher rating, than I should have. For more details, see my post Mai May Movies 2016 from May 2016, as well.

6. Airlift (2016) – Near Excellent: 9/10!

A true account of Indians trapped in Kuwait, in 1990, as the country was being invaded by Iraq; under Saddam Hussein. Yet again, see my mini-review under, ‘Mai May Movies 2016’, from May 2016.
pink-laden7. Michael Moore in TrumpLand (2016) – Very Good: 8/10!

Despite all Michael Moore had to say in this Stand-up/Documentary, Trump still triumphed; and now, 70 year old, Donald J. Trump; a business magnate; is the President of the United States!!

What I really liked about this documentary, is without directly attacking Trump, Moore slowly tries to make people understand, why he shouldn’t be the political leader, of America; and the dangers they face, if he came into power. This was almost an advertorial campaign for Hillary Clinton. Despite all this explanation, it is a pity, Mrs. Clinton; so much a better politician, lost out, to a business celebrity. I was rooting for her to be the first female President of America. Sad! And many, open-minded, Americans were distraught with the results. And the Women’s March 2017, is proof of that.

Watched this last year, as Trump won the elections, on iflix (November 2016).

8. Passengers (2016) – Pretty Good: 7/10!

I loved, Norwegian director, Morten Tyldum’s, The Imitation Game (2014); and his Hodejegerne (2011), a.k.a. Headhunters, is in my watch list. And when I went and watched, Passengers, in 3-D; I really enjoyed majority of the movie. BUT, unfortunately there is ‘But’!!

A spaceship carrying over 5000 people, under induced hibernation; travelling to a distant planet, in a span of 120 years; has a malfunction. As a result, more than one person, is woken up, approximately 90 years early. The film, with just two lead characters, who have to carry the burden of film, entirely on their shoulders, is very impressive. And it goes on really well, to near excellence; the whole while, a question of ethics, gnawing at you (the audience). But then (spoiler alert), a third person wakes up; and starts to ruin the film; turning the highly clever premise, and the intellectually stimulating story, into a silly, action blockbuster, waste. From here the movie becomes really, unrealistic (sure it’s set space, but the fictional aspects, still have to be believable enough) and, the romantic angle, pretty mushy. None the less, majority of this, stunningly, visually, beautiful movie, is worth checking out!!

Chris Pratt & Jennifer Lawrence in Passengers (2016)

Chris Pratt & Jennifer Lawrence in Passengers (2016)

For next month’s Oscars, Passengers, has been nominated for it’s Production Design; and the interiors of the Spaceship are magnificent; as are the special effects. But then again, CGI/special effects, are practically good in any movie today; and unfortunately, most of the time, that is the only good thing about a movie. I hope this movie bags a trophy for ‘Best Production Design’, at the oncoming Academy Awards. Passengers, might not be a great film, but still quite good, a very enjoyable movie; until they ruin it towards the end.

Watched Passengers on the Big Screen, earlier this month (January 2017)

9. My Sweet Audrina (2016) – Very Bad: 3/10!

A creepy thriller, with a really interesting premise. But a bore of a film. Don’t waste your time on it.

Watched this TV film, last year, online, on iflix (November 2016).

10. Ki & Ka (2016) – Very Bad: 3/10!

The concept of the wife going to work, and husband staying at home, and being a househusband/homemaker, may seem a bit outdated; but that is not reason the movie doesn’t work. It had it’s fun spots, and serious segments; but the movie as a whole, was pretty stale and dull. On the positive side, I love the fact, the man, by choice, decides to be a homemaker; and is very supportive of his wife; and I loved the role reversal, the Abhimaan (1973) moment, in the movie, where the wife pushes him to do an interview on TV, and as he starts becoming a celebrity, she starts to feel jealous. So the concept was enjoyable. The movie also reminded me of, this Hindi sitcom; we use to watch as kids; Mr ya Mrs (1987-1988). But the movie is a bit of drag, and ultimately a waste of time. Enjoyable premise, yet poorly executed.

Saw Ki & Ka, when it was shown on Colors, last year (October 2016).

10+1. 13 Hours (2016) – Very Bad: 3/10!

Based on real events, it’s such bore of film. On the 11th of September, 2012; the US Ambassador’s compound, and an unofficial CIA base, in Benghazi, Libya, is attacked. The movie starts off really well, but then drags on, and is way to long. I felt I sat through the movie for ‘13 hours’ myself.

Watched 13 Hours, on HBO On Demand, late Sunday night (29th January 2017)!!
film-13-hours-201610+2. Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (2016) – THE Worst film, of 2016, that I have seen, so far: 1/10!

It’s not even worth talking about, this crap of a film, by Karan Johar. Johar is a good director, and did a marvellous job when it came to his short film, within Bombay Talkies (2013); an anthology of four short films. In fact his directorial segment was my favourite. BUT, when it comes to feature length films, he sure mucks it up. And he is a good producer; Dharma Productions, is his company, the company that produced, the above mentioned, Kapoor & Sons. Plus, he is quite a good television talk show host. Really enjoy watching, most of his interviews on, Koffee with Karan (2004 onwards). Currently, the latest season, of Koffee with Karan, is running on the Indian cable network, Star World.

Watched Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, when it was telecast, on Colors, on Saturday morning (28th January 2017)!!

Special Note: End of last year, I watched a Sinhala documentary, called Usaviya Nihadai, which I tweeted as being released in 2016, for it was released in Sri Lanka, only last year; amidst a lot of controversy (of course, I watched it on the small screen; rented it out, when it was provided by our cable operator). But according to IMDB, it was released in 2015!!!!! Apparently it was released at a ‘Sakhalin Film Festival’, in Russia (I didn’t even know about an island called Sakhalin; let alone about this festival; till now). I gave Usaviya Nihadai, an Average Fare rating, of 6/10!!

Ki & Ka (2016) is practically a remake of the 70’s classic, Abhimaan (1973); with roles reversed!!

Ki & Ka (2016) is practically a remake of the 70’s classic, Abhimaan (1973); with roles reversed!!

Unfortunately, from the releases of 2016, I haven’t watched any Oscar worthy, English language, movie (except for the great production design, in Passengers). BUT Amitabh Bachchan’s performance in PINK (2016), is definitely an Oscar worthy performance. Pity, I doubt Hollywood has even heard of this movie, let alone, nominate the Big B, for his outstanding acting skills, in general.

Looking forward to, watching the Oscars LIVE telecast, next month (February 2017).

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
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The Swinging Sixties
1966 Blow-UpThe 1960’s was a very unique decade, of the 20th century, when the world changed for the better. An era, thanks to which, we live in (or rather should live in) a more open minded world, with a freer lifestyle, with lesser (or rather should, with no) prejudice. An era, which brought about Equal Rights, Feminism (Women’s Lib),  The Hippies, the second (and more worldwide) phase of The Sexual Revolution (as opposed to The Sexual Revolution of the Roaring 20’s, which was limited to certain regions in the western world), Black Pride movement, Gay Pride movement, Youth Rebellions of 68’, Woodstock of 69’, Stonewall Riots of 69’, Motown Records, Rock Music, Experimentation with Psychedelic Drugs, Birth Control Pill, Popular Music, The Beatles, The British Invasion of Pop & Rock, Ravi Shankar, Elvis Presley, Andy Warhol, Pop-Art, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, Martin Luther King, Jr., Socialists, Radical political influences, 32 African countries gaining Independence, The Indian ‘Hungryalist Quartet’, China’s ‘Great Leap Forward’, The Vietnam War, The American Counterculture, The Kennedy’s, The Space Age (the world put a man on the moon), Supercomputers, Sketchpads, Spacewar (first video game), Japanese Cars, Summer of Love, Flower Power, Peace, Love and anti-war sentiments.

The beginning of the 60’s decade, and the latter part of the 60’s, were so different, as if they belonged to two terrifically different era’s. This was a period that globalisation actually took place. Added to which fashion, art and music, travelled beyond borders. The Beatles were influenced by Indian music, especially the sounds of the Sitar. Short Indian Kurta’s, Hindu beads, African Batik styles, South American Poncho’s, were loved by the Hippies. Similarly western geometric styles, and bright designs, were adapted to Asian clothing. The era was famed for, mini-skirts, of swinging London, and skin tight Salwar-Kameezes, in India (inspired by the western tight skirts). A very glamorous decade, with it’s massive bouffant hairstyles, tight clothes and short skirts. And as the decade proceeded, the hairdo’s went higher, as did the hemlines.

Bollywood superstar, Sharmila Tagore, became the first Indian actress to don a Bikini on the cover of a glossy magazine, in 1966. This was an Independence Special issue.

Bollywood superstar, Sharmila Tagore (though not the first Indian to wear a Bikini), became the first Indian actress to don a Bikini on the cover of a glossy magazine. In the Year: 1966. This was an Independence Special, issue of Filmfare (August 1966).

The modern Bikini, though invented in 1946 (prior to which slightly bigger, two piece swimsuits, baring the midriff, existed), gained popularity internationally only in the 1960’s. Prior to which, general women preferred traditional, one piece, swimwear, though a lot of glamour girls were seen in tiny Bikini’s in magazines, films, et al. Yet young men, were quite comfortable, in tiny swimming trunks. Today it’s the exact opposite.

And in Cinema: 1960’s

The invent of the Merchant Ivory Productions took place, making Indian English Language films, avec a highly international standard (started by a trio of well (western) educated friends, Ismail Merchant, James Ivory & Ruth Prawer Jhabvala). They brought something new to Indian Cinema, in the 60’s & 70’s (unlike the Western Orientalist craze for Bollywood today, and the assumption that all Indian Cinema falls under the category of Bollywood, whilst Bollywood only makes Hindi Language films (out of the 122 major languages, and many more sub-dialects, spoken in India), and is mostly associated with commercial cinema, mainly with song & dance), and a special, new-found, global admiration for mystic & spiritual India. The Hippie culture had a major influence in India and Nepal.

In the west, the 60’s, revolutionised Cinema. In Europe, Art Cinema, especially The French New Wave (La Nouvelle Vague), brought out a modernist (non-commercial, yet loved by modern intellectual youths) form of film, as never before; with François Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard at the helm. Elsewhere, Swedish film director Ingmar Bergman, Chilean film director Alexandro Jodorowsky, Polish film directors Roman Polanski & Wojciech Jerzy, Italian film directors Michelangelo Antonioni, Federico Fellini & Pier Paolo Pasolini, Japanese film director Akira Kurosawa, and Indian film directors Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen & Ritwik Ghatak (all in the Bengali language) brought about their own masterpieces of Art Cinema, with an International standard, in their respective countries.

Sandy Dennis, George Segal & Elizabeth Taylor, in a scene from Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)

Sandy Dennis, George Segal & Elizabeth Taylor, in a scene from Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)

Hollywood wasn’t far back, and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), was America’s answer to the European Art House. Directed by Mike Nichols (this was his directorial debut feature), starring Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, George Segal & Sandy Dennis, and based on a play by Edward Albee, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, is today, considered a culturally relevant, a historically noteworthy, and an aesthetically significant, masterpiece of the American Art Film.

Movies also began to break taboos of sex, nudity and violence, with controversial directors like Pier Paolo Pasolini, Federico Fellini & Bernardo Bertolucci (in Italian Films), Roger Vadim (French Films), Roger Corman (American Films) and Raj Kapoor (Bollywood – Hindi Commercial Films), to name a few. The 60’s are also remembered in conjunction with the Spaghetti Westerns, a short lived trend, begun by Italian film director, Sergio Leon.

The Year: 1966

Tunisian-born Italian actress of Sicilian parentage, Claudia Cardinale, on the cover of (the July 1966 issue of) LIFE magazine

Tunisian-born, Italian actress, of Sicilian parentage, Claudia Cardinale, on the cover of (the July 1966 issue of) LIFE magazine

1966 saw, the Acid Test (a series of parties, in the mid-late 60’s, centred around the use of the psychedelic drug LSD, a.k.a. Acid) take place, at the historic music venue in San Francisco, California, The Fillmore. These acid trips lasted throughout the rest of the decade. The spy-plane, SR-71 Blackbird (which had it’s first flight in 1964), started operation. Cabinet Member, Robert C. Weaver, became the first African American to hold a cabinet position in the United States. Indian Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, was elected Prime Minister of India, making her the first, and only, woman Prime Minister, in India, to hold office till date. She was also the second longest serving Prime Minister of India. Luna 9, an unmanned spacecraft landed on the Moon, making it the first controlled rocket-assisted landing. Later same year, Luna 10, was also launched, by the Russians. The Lunar Orbiter 1, the first U.S. spacecraft to orbit the moon, was also launched, much later, that year. A head to head space race. The Australian Dollar was introduced. John Lennon made the controversial remark, that ‘The Beatles were more popular than Jesus’; which, though there were no problems when it was first published in the United Kingdom, got him into trouble with Christian communities in the United States, when it was republished in the States. The Crown Princess of the Netherlands married a German, which sparked protests against the Groom. Meanwhile demonstrations were held, across the United States, against the Vietnam War. The opening of the Parliament of the United Kingdom was televised for the very first time. Ian Brady and Myra Hindley were finally convicted, for the murder of three children, in UK. In New York, thirteen square blocks of low rise buildings were cleared for construction of the World Trade Center (Twin Towers), and groundbreaking for the construction began.

Superstar Sophia Loren on the cover of LIFE (September 1966 issue) YEAR: NINETEEN SEXTY SEX

Superstar Sophia Loren on the cover of LIFE (September 1966 issue)
YEAR: NINETEEN SEXTY SEX

Star Trek (1966-1969), a sci-fi series, made it’s television debut, in America. The Black Panther Party was founded in USA. Japan introduced the Toyota Corolla. Chinese students were chased out of the Soviet Union. The Mothman was introduced, when a couple reported that they saw a strange moth like creature, in the States. Author Truman Capote, hosted a lavish, Black & White, masquerade ball, which was credited as being the Party of the century. Jack L. Warner sold Warner Bros. to Seven Arts Productions; And Hollywood actor, Ronald Reagan, was elected, as the Governor of California.

Sadly, 1966 also saw the demise of greats, such as; famed Swiss Sculptor Alberto Giacometti, notorious American gossip columnist Hedda Hopper, iconic Silent Film-star Buster Keaton, neo-classical Italian Artist Gino Severini, American Artist & Illustrator Maxfield Parrish, British Author Evelyn Waugh, German Expressionist Film producer Erich Pommer, Hollywood method-actor Montgomery Clift, American Poet & Art Critic Frank O’Hara, French Writer & Poet André Breton, Canadian Beautician & Entrepreneur Elizabeth Arden, and Cartoonist Walt Disney (the most prominent figure of the animation industry worldwide); to name some.

Now let’s have a look at some of the films that were released in:-
1966: The Year dubbed as Nineteen Sexty Sex!!!

Hays Code was almost nearing it’s death (the dreaded censorship laws that could have, but thankfully didn’t, kill off, the cinematic arts; with it’s silly rules and regulations), and Hays (the man who implemented these rules) himself had already been dead for just over a decade. The world was going through a new found sexual revolution, as was the film industry, especially Hollywood. And the out-dated production code by William Hays, was getting impossible to enforce (which was finally, completely, abandoned in 1968).

Boeing, Boeing (1965), was a quite hilarious comedy, with Tony Curtis &  Jerry Lewis in the lead. Though released in 1965, it's film posters, hinted what the following year should be known as.

Boeing, Boeing (1965), was quite a hilarious comedy, with Tony Curtis & Jerry Lewis, in the lead. Though released in 1965, it’s film posters, hinted at, what the following year, should be known as.

In April 1966, at the 38th  Annual Academy Awards, the family entertainer, Sound of Music (1965), grabbed the ‘Best Picture’ Oscar, winning five out of it’s ten nominations. Fred Zinnemann’s, A Man for all Seasons (1966), a historical biographical movie, based on an excellent play by Robert Bolt, ended up bagging six Oscars, the following year, including for ‘Best Picture’, ‘Best Director’ and ‘Best Actor’, at the 39th Annual Academy Awards. Thus making it the best film of 1966. Love the movie, love the play. But let’s have a look at some of the movies, that defined the 60’s, and more specifically, Year: Nineteen Sexty Sex.

Blow-Up (1966), a near excellent British Film, by Italian director, Michelangelo Antonioni, is no doubt the perfect insight into the latter half of 60’s decade. Fashion, fashion photography, and sexy sizzling costumes of Swinging London, it encompasses the late 60’s to perfection. A very 60’s, Sexty Sex, film, set in the world of modern fashion, with a modern, youthful and open-minded, insight into the changing world.

Blow-Up (1966) - a movie that defined the 60's!!!!! TOP LEFT: Sarah Miles TOP RIGHT: Veruschka von Lehndorff & David Hemmings BOTTOM RIGHT: David Hemmings & Veruschka von Lehndorff  BOTTOM RIGHT: Topless/Shirtless Vanessa Redgrave & David Hemmings

Blow-Up (1966) – a movie that defined the late 60’s!!!!!
TOP LEFT: Sarah Miles
TOP RIGHT: Veruschka von Lehndorff & David Hemmings
BOTTOM LEFT: David Hemmings & Veruschka von Lehndorff
BOTTOM RIGHT: Topless/Shirtless – Vanessa Redgrave & David Hemmings

The plot deals with a fashion photographer, who one day accidentally takes shots of something, he shouldn’t have, in a park. Then a mysteriously beautiful woman walks into his life, under very suspicious circumstances. David Hemmings played the photographer, and Vanessa Redgrave, the mysterious beauty. The film also features a line of breathtakingly talented beauties, including Sarah Miles, Jane Birkin and German born fashion model, Veruschka von Lehndorff (daughter of a Prussian Count who was involved in a plot to assassinate Hitler, and thus killed for it), to name some. In addition to that, the film has some notable cameo’s by several well known personalities from 1966. Especially, worth watching out for a performance, by English Rock-Band, The Yardbirds. Hemmings’ character was inspired by the real life, Swinging London, photographer, David Bailey.

Blow-Up dared to be quite sexually provocative, especially for that era, and when it was released in the United States, it was in direct defiance with the ridiculous Hays Code. In fact, Blow-Up’s subsequent critical, and box-office, success, was a crucial cinematic-historical moment, leading to the ultimate elimination of the out-dated production code, in 1968.

Next let’s have a look at Sexty Sex’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, which I mentioned earlier. One of my favourite films ever, which also happens to be among my own TOP-10 all time favourite movies (See my list Why I love …. from November/December 2012 on IMDB). Love the movie. Love the Book (Play).

My favourite film of Year: Nineteen Sexty Sex

My favourite film of Year: Nineteen Sexty Sex

The film is about, a miserable middle-aged couple, who regret their life together, having not achieved all they had hoped and desired for, when young. Set within one night, the older couple invite a younger couple for drinks, and play out their disappointments, with one another, at the younger couples’ expense.

Elizabeth Taylor, who was still in her early 30’s, at the time, is successfully turned into a bitter old frumpy woman in her 50’s. Yet, this violet eyed beauty, oozes with sex appeal, and easily seduces the younger married man. Taylor’s character, Martha, not only seduces the younger man, but the audience as well, openly, in front of her weak willed husband (played by real life husband, Richard Burton). Especially, watch out for her re-entry, after she changes her clothes; as the old woman, walks into the living room, in a low-cut, deep cleavage bearing outfit; she is still a far superior sexual being, than the mousy little wife of the younger man, Nick (played by George Segal), Honey (Sandy Dennis). Showcased with a shadowy outline, suggesting a sexual act in progress, seen through a bedroom window, this is another 60’s movie, which not only revolves around sexual human relationships; the older husband & wife, the younger husband & wife (a marriage based on a “hysterical pregnancy”), and the adulterous one night stand; but their vulgar tongued bitterness, is blatantly thrown at audiences, quite unapologetically. It’s an excellent movie, meant for mature audiences. Not just mature in age, but maturity of the mind, is a necessity, to watch an intellectual movie like this. Beautifully filmed in Black & White, the film is a complete psychoanalysis of the young and the old. The 60’s dared to release a movie like Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, which surpasses time, and can be relevant in any human relationship, in any era.

Sex on the Dance Floor: Liz Taylor & George Segal

Sex on the Dance Floor: Liz Taylor & George Segal

Then there is a really seductively intimate dance number, between Taylor and Segal, which is pure sex on the dance floor. My favourite movie from Nineteen Sexty Sex, Mike Nichols’ directorial debut, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, is a must watch, for any film buff, students of Cinema Literature, and students of Literature in the print form.

Natalie Wood was seen in two sexy releases, that year. One was the near excellent comedy, Penelope (1966), in which she plays a bored rich kleptomaniac, who robs her own husband’s bank (thus, the film/character namesake – is tagged as being, “the world’s most beautiful Bank-Robber”); and the other, a more serious, sizzling with heat, and female sexuality, movie, set in the depression era, in the Deep American South; This Property Is Condemned (1966). Another excellent masterwork of adult cinema. The latter film flaunts it’s female lead’s sexuality, thus feels more at-your-face sexual, than the comedy mentioned here. Also see my post Condemnation of a woman during the Depression era of the American south and Mai May Movies 2015 from May 2015.

Scenes from This Property is Condemned (1966)

Scenes from This Property is Condemned (1966)

Whilst the west, was coming to terms with exploring sexual topics in cinema, in the east, Indian cinema, specifically Bollywood’s commercial cinema, was starting open up topics of sex themselves. In Aakhri Khat (1966), we see a ditched beggar woman, die on the streets Bombay. Originally from Kulu district, of the state of Himachal Pradesh, she comes to Bombay, bearing child, to find the reason for her sufferings, Govind (Rajesh Khanna), a sculptor. Once the woman dies, the toddler is left on the buzy streets to fend for himself.

Directed by Chetan Anand, majority of the movie, is filmed with a hand-held camera, following a 15 month old infant, let loose in the city, taking in all the city sounds, under the cinematic direction of cinematographer, Jal Mistry. It’s an excellent movie. Am not going to go deep into the film. The implication of pre-marital sex wasn’t necessarily something new. But there is one beautiful scene, I’d like to mention. As the lost hungry child roams around the city, unaware of the death of his mother, he comes across a semi-nude statue of his mothers’, made by his father, Govind. The child at once recognises his mum, but doesn’t realise, it’s just a sculpture. The hungry crying child, is now delighted he found his mum, he feels safe, and slowly climbs it and tries to drink milk from her breast. That scene is so sad, so touching, your heart lets out. In one way there is a sense of eroticism, seeing a child trying to drink milk from a statue, but it’s also a heartrending moment in the movie. Aakhri Khat is an excellent movie, and this was superstar, Rajesh Khanna’s, very first role.

Vyjayanthimala in and as Amrapali (1966), based on the true life tragic story of a courtesan in 500 BC.

Vyjayanthimala in and as Amrapali (1966), in this historical epic, based on the true life, tragic story, of a courtesan, in 500 BC.

Bollywood actress, of southern Indian ancestry, Vyjayanthimala, appeared in two sexy roles, in 1966. One was, where she played a Princess, in Suraj (1966). An enjoyable enough movie, with beautiful songs, and an average story line. An OK venture, showcasing Vyjayanthimala’s sexy gait and bewitching beauty. But it was the historical epic, biographical movie, about a real life courtesan, Amrapali (1966), which was one of the best films she’s ever done, and encompasses her sexuality to the utmost. The concubine, mistress, of a tyrannical King, her dances, the beautiful body, is pure eroticism, and pure art. Set in 500 BC, under the rein of King Ajatashatru of Magadha empire, this is one of my favourite Bollywood films, and one of my favourite historical/Biographical epics. Amrapali was directed by Lekh Tandon.

Both these excellent Bollywood movies (Aakhri Khat & Amrapali), were selected as India’s official entry for the ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ category at the Academy Awards, but neither were selected as Oscar nominees.

Besides these Bollywood commercial films, 1966, also so the release of the Indian Art House Film, from the state of Bengal (in Bengali); Satyajit Ray’s Nayak (1966). A feminist writer, played by Sharmila Tagore, and a Bengali film star, played by Uttam Kumar, meet by chance in a train, travelling from Calcutta to New Delhi. Reluctant at first, for the feminist writer is full of contempt towards film stars, she ultimately decides to interview him. The whole movie, is a train journey, mainly set the restaurant car, where she interviews him. But the film is also a journey of understanding one another. The actor, slowly opens up, without hiding behind a façade, whilst the feminist softens her outlook towards the world of showbiz. By the end of the journey, as they part their ways, both have improved, through this journey of self-discovery, and an understanding of a non-judgemental outlook towards fellow human beings. One of my favourite Bengali movies, by one of the greatest Indian directors ever.

Cul-de-Sac 66'

Heading back to the United Kingdom, Polish director, Roman Polanski’s, Cul-de-Sac (1966), is another interesting, sexual and psychological thriller. A very weird movie dealing with sexual frustration, alienation and of-course the input of horror. A very good movie, which has all the Polanski trade-marks, seen in most of his films. Also see my post Roman Polanski & His Films from a couple of years ago.

Getting back to Hollywood, my favourite director, Alfred Hitchcock’s, Torn Curtain (1966), a movie that deals with an American physicist defecting (in pretence) onto the Iron Curtain, more specifically East Germany. Set and made, during the Cold War, and starring Julie Andrews and Paul Newman, this is not considered among the best of Hitchcockian films. Yet it’s still an excellent movie. Hitchcock was intrigued by the defection of British diplomats Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean to the Soviet Union in 1951, and thus the idea behind Torn Curtain was born.

Julie Andrews and Paul Newman in Torn Curtain (1966)

Julie Andrews and Paul Newman in Torn Curtain (1966)

The film has a very mild sex scene, with Andrews and Newman, in the beginning of the film. Yet, straight out of family entertainers like Mary Poppins (1964) and The Sound of Music, seeing Julie Andrews do a sex scene, was shocking for American audiences back then. But by the early 70’s, there were so much more, graphic, sex sequences, in movies like, A Clockwork Orange (1971), Last Tango in Paris (1972) and Don’t Look Now (1973), to name a few, that even the idea of being shocked at the sex scene in Torn Curtain was laughable. Paul Newman, also appears nude in a shower scene, but seen through a glass, the nudity isn’t that clearly visible.

Ebony Magazine covers from 1966, depicting celebs with their families.

Ebony Magazine covers from 1966, depicting celebs with their families.

1966, wasn’t all about sex, there were some beautiful non-sexual family films like, Born Free (1966), Mera Saaya (1966), How to Steal a Million (1966), Anupama (1966), Dil Diya Dard Liya (1966), A Man for all Seasons (mentioned above), for example. Yet the Audrey Hepburn movie, How to Steal a Million, can also be categorized as a  stylishly, sleek n’ sexy, movie of 1966. Other sexy films of 66’, include, Fantastic Voyage (1966), Teesri Manzil (1966), Frankie and Johnny (1966), 7 Women (1966), Love in Tokyo (1966), Teesri Kasam (1966), etc etc …

Scene from Masculin Féminin (1966)

Scene from Masculin Féminin (1966)

Then there are Sexty-Sex films I haven’t seen, but would love to, like, Un Homme et une Femme (1966), Masculin Féminin (1966), The Battle of Algiers (1966), Voyna i Mir Part-I & II (1966), Alfie (1966), Shiroi Kyotō (1966), Persona (1966), Is Paris Burning? (1966), The Face of Another (1966), Fahrenheit 451 (1966), The Sand Pebbles (1966), The Appaloosa (1966), The Russians Are Coming the Russians Are Coming (1966), The Chase (1966), Madame X (1966), Funeral in Berlin (1966), Any Wednesday (1966), Triple Cross (1966 ), Made in U.S.A (1966), Hawaii (1966), La Curée (1966), The Blue Max (1966), Sex Quartet (1966), Gambit (1966), Kenka Erejî (1966), The Trouble with Angels (1966), The Professionals (1966), Sedmikrásky (1966), Daimajin (1966), Trunk to Cairo (1966), Au Hasard Balthazar (1966), Incompreso (1966), The Deadly Affair (1966), Pearls of the Deep (1966), Harper (1966), Our Man in Marrakesh (1966), Grand Prix (1966), Khartoum (1966), O Slavnosti a Hostech (1966), Andrei Rublev (1966), Nevada Smith (1966), The Fortune Cookie (1966), Arabesque (1966), The Wild Angels (1966), Tokyo Drifter (1966), Maya (1966), Uccellacci e Uccellini (1966), Seconds (1966), The War Is Over (1966), Faraon (1966), Kaleidoscope (1966), Ah Güzel Istanbul (1966), The Poppy is also a Flower (1966), Ostre Sledované Vlaky (1966), La noire de… (1966), Mamta (1966), The Pornographers (1966), Le Deuxième Souffle (1966), Krylya (1966), The Sandwich Man (1966), Chappaqua (1966), Syskonbädd 1782 (1966), Yeh Raat phir na Aaygi (1966), A Man Called Adam (1966), Es (1966), Signore & Signori (1966), Onna no Mizûmi (1966), Apa (1966), Les Créatures (1966), Zatôichi umi o Wataru (1966), Footsteps in the Snow (1966), La Vida de Pedro Infante (1966), Kiba Ôkaminosuke (1966), The Embryo Hunts in Secret (1966), Seasons of Our Love (1966), Una Vergine per il Principe (1966), After the Fox (1966), etc etc …. and so many more.

The cover of Film Review from December 1966

The cover of Film Review from December 1966

And then there are films that I haven’t watched, that am not that crazy about, but which are sexualised films (especially using actresses, with beautiful bodies, rather than acting talent – mostly B-movies, B-Horror/B-Sci-fi films), some of which were quite famous back in 1966, and some that sound so silly they were hardly worth mentioning, and audiences back then weren’t that crazy about checking out. The likes of, One Million Years B.C. (1966), Women of the Prehistoric Planet (1966), Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966), Once Before I Die (1966), Blood Bath (1966), Queen of Blood (1966), The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini (1966), Kill Baby, Kill (1966), Take Me Naked (1966) and Single Room Furnished (1966), to name some.

The 1960’s: One Great Decade!!!!!
The Year 1966: One Unique Year, especially for Cinema!!!!!

Veruschka and David Hemmings in Blow-Up  YEAR:1966

Veruschka and David Hemmings in Blow-Up
YEAR:1966

This post is about Sex in Film & the Sixties, and more specifically in 66’ (a.k.a. Sexty Sex); (Ironic, considering the fact, that my previous post, dealt with virginity, in Year 2015).

Meant for More Mature Audiences!!!!!
(Immature Adults – Stay Clear)

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
Nuwan Sen’s Historical Sense

This post, is my contribution for the Classic Movie History Project Blogathon, organised by fellow Bloggers of, Silver Screenings (Ruth), Movies Silently (Fritzi) & Once Upon a Screen (Aurora); and sponsored by Flicker Alley.
History Project  (JUNE 2015) LOGOThank you Ruth, Aurora and Fritzi for letting me be part of this interesting Blogathon. It’s five minutes to Midnight !!!!! Good Night!!!!! 🙂

Regards
Nuwan Sen

Oscars 2015 The WinnersThe Arrivals

As I’ve been doing for the last few years, being a true Film buff, I woke up early, on 23rd of February, 2015, to catch the 87th Annual Academy Awards ceremony LIVE. The 87th Annual Academy Awards was held on the evening of 22nd February 2015, i.e. 23rd early morning, on this side of the Globe.

As I switched on the tele, at 5:30 a.m., the glitterati of Hollywood’s elite sashayed in, in their glamorous attire. The best dressed actresses of the evening included J-Lo, Emma Stone, Lupita Nyong’o, Marion Cotillard, Keira Knightley, Felicity Jones, Nicole Kidman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Laura Dern, Scarlett Johansson, Rosamund Pike, et al. Among the gents, Neil Patrick Harris, stole the show, when he walked in on the Red Carpet, dressed in a stunning tux, with his husband, David Burtka, walking behind him. Well, most of the male stars were smartly dressed, from director Richard Linklater and his young protégé, Ellar Coltrane, to actors Michael Keaton, Jared Leto, Chiwetel Ejiofor, David Oyelowo, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort and Kevin Hart, to musicians Hans Zimmer and Adam Levine. Best moment on the Red carpet was the typical Mother/Daughter tiff, with veteran Melanie Griffith and daughter Dakota Johnson, where Johnson came on harsh on her poor mother, and Griffith seemed slightly hurt. Yet, it made them so normal. Poor Mother.

Neil Patrick Harris, Hosting the Oscars, 2015

Neil Patrick Harris, Hosting the Oscars, 2015

I enjoyed the show as well, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris. Though I agree, that he wasn’t the best person to host the Oscars, he wasn’t among the worst either, the way he’s been criticized about on social media. True, I agree that one of his gags was ill-timed. When; dressed in a black, pom-pom laden, elegant, evening gown; filmmaker Dana Perry; who was awarded for ‘Best Short Documentary’ for Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 (2013); dedicated the Oscar to her son, who had committed suicide, Patrick Harris quipped that ‘‘It takes a lot of balls to wear a dress like that’’. Neil Patrick Harris, here, wasn’t being witty, but pretty foolish and unsympathetic. But besides that; and walking in ¾ naked, in tiny-whities, onto the stage, as a parody to Birdman (2014), the movie which ended up taking home the Oscar for ‘Best Picture’; I generally enjoyed the show, despite a few dry jokes, Mr. Harris came up with. I actually enjoyed the gag with the briefcase, he tasked Oscar-winning actress Octavia Spencer, to guard throughout the night. I didn’t think he was being racist, nor did I feel he was making fun of her weight. Of course, the gag ended up pretty silly, when he finally opened up the case. I even enjoyed the joke with the seat fillers, and Steve Carell.

Among the performances of the night, the one I enjoyed most, was Lady Gaga paying tribute to Julie Andrews, Maria Von Trapp and The Sound of Music (1965), for this musical’s 50th anniversary. Known for her shock value, with her, eccentric and weird, yet authentic and aesthetic, sense of style, Lady Gaga, stunned audiences at the Oscars, in her vintage gown, looking very much a graceful sophisticated lady of elegance and class, as the world has never witnessed her before. Added to which, she sure has a healthy pair of lungs, and sang all the mesmerising songs from the classic movie to perfection. Lady Gaga is no doubt one of the most popular pop stars, since Madonna and Michael Jackson, to grace the face of earth. But her popularity, has more to do with her unique image, she’s created for her self, than her music. Touching was the scene, when Dame Julie Andrews, with her face radiating pure warmth and kindness, walked onto the stage and thanked Lady Gaga, embracing her. This powerful performance of Lady Gaga, definitely should have elevated her status, with the elitist, adding to her already great fan base.

Another great performance of the night, was the tribute to Martin Luther King jr.’s long march for voting rights, from 50 years ago, as well. The song ‘Glory’, from the film Selma (2014), was performed by John Legend and Lonnie Lynn (Common), on stage, which ended up bagging the Oscar for ‘Best Original Song’, that night. The song got a standing ovation, with a teary eyed David Oyelowo, looking on. Oprah Winfrey gave Oyelowo a hug to console him. It was very a touching moment as well.

Thus, though Neil Patrick Harris, wasn’t among the better Oscar hosts, the evening (at day time here) was enjoyable enough.

Winners as Predicted

As I had hoped, Eddie Redmayne won the ‘Best Actor’ Oscar (See my post Redmayne ‘is’ Hawking, in the new bio-pic on Stephen Hawking from earlier this month), for his brilliant performance as Stephen Hawking, in The Theory of Everything (2014). Interstellar (2014), grabbing the award for ‘Best Visual Effects’, was another plus for me. The Special effects were truly spectacular, as was the movie, for a change. Movies now a days, with great computer graphics, rarely tend to be great films as well (see my post The Big Screen – Films Down Under  from November 2014). Patricia Arquette winning the ‘Best Supporting Actress’ for Boyhood (2014), was as anticipated. She deserved the Oscar, for brilliantly showcasing a difficult stage of, 12 years of, ‘motherhood’, in the beginning of the 21st century, in my favourite movie from last year, so far (see my post In-flight Entertainment from November 2014). Though Ethan Hawke, too, was nominated for Boyhood, I didn’t think his role was great enough for him to win the Oscar. I hadn’t really predicted as to who might win, until Lupita Nyong’o announced the nominees, showcasing their talent on screen. As soon as I saw the scene with J. K. Simmons and Miles Teller, from Whiplash (2014), I guessed Simmons might take home the trophy, even though I hadn’t seen the movie. And so he did, end up winning the ‘Best Supporting Actor’ Oscar. Once I saw the performance of the song ‘Glory’ from Selma, on the stage at the Oscars (as I’ve mentioned above), I expected it to win for ‘Best Original Song’, and it did.

Unpredicted Winners

The unexpected winners, happened to be, movies I haven’t seen yet. Like for instance, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014), which grabbed four Oscars, including for ‘Best Picture’, ‘Best Director’ – to Alejandro G. Iñárritu, ‘Best Original Screenplay’, and ‘Best Cinematography’- to Emmanuel Lubezki. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) bagging four Oscars as well, was a total surprise. Whiplash won three. Citizenfour (2014), won ‘Best Documentary’. Citizenfour is based on and the United States, National Security Agency (NSA) spying scandal, of 2013, with regard to, former NSA contractor and American computer professional, Edward Snowden, who leaked classified information from the NSA to the mainstream media, back in June 2013. Snowdon currently lives in exile, under temporary asylum, in Russia. Am really keen on checking out this documentary.

The ‘Best Actress’ Oscar. Though, Felicity Jones from The Theory of Everything was nominated for ‘Best Actress’, I didn’t feel she’d win. And I wasn’t sure who’d win. Am a great fan of French actress, Marion Cotillard, yet I haven’t seen Two Days, One Night (2014), so I couldn’t judge. Thus when Julianne Moore won the ‘Best Actress’ Oscar, for Still Alice (2014), another film I haven’t seen, though unexpected, it wasn’t a surprise either. In fact, I would have been surprised, if Felicity Jones did win. She was great in the movie, but her role as Hawking’s wife wasn’t exactly Oscar worthy.

Among others:
‘Best Foreign Language Film’ to Paweł Pawlikowski’s Polish film, Ida (2013).
‘Best Animated Short Film’ to Patrick Osborne’s Feast (2014).
‘Best Live Action Short Film’ to The Phone Call (2013).
‘Best Short Documentary’ to The Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 (as mentioned above).
‘Best Animated Feature Film’ to Big Hero 6 (2014)
‘Best Sound Editing’ to American Sniper (2014)
‘Best Adapted Screenplay’ to Graham Moore, for The Imitation Game (2014). Moore gave a heart whelming speech, regarding his youth.
Mr. Turner (2014), Unbroken (2014), Foxcatcher (2014), Inherent Vice (2014), and the neo-noir crime thriller, Nightcrawler (2014), not winning a single Oscar, though I haven’t watched any of them.

Boyhood (2014) The Best Film from last year, I've seen so far (NSFS)

Boyhood (2014)
The Best Film from last year, I’ve seen so far (NSFS)

Biggest Oscar Disappointment of the night

I was really disappointed when Boyhood didn’t win for ‘Best Picture’, along with a ‘Best Director’ Oscar for Richard Linklater. Although I haven’t seen Birdman, which I’d love to, Boyhood is a unique experience, rich in it’s context and an innovative study of family life today. A movie that shall age well, maturing as time goes by, and be remembered as one of the best movies, to ever come out of the 21st century. A film that film students would love to dissect and analyse. Richard Linklater has proved to be a true genius, through Boyhood.

But when Linklater lost out to, Birdman’s Alejandro G. Iñárritu, for ‘Best Director’, I had a hunch, that Boyhood might lose out to Birdman, yet again, for the Best Picture’ Oscar, for Year 2015. Sad!!

Another disappointment, was when Hans Zimmer’s hauntingly beautiful score for Interstellar was passed on, for the ‘Best Original Score’ award, to Alexandre Desplat’s background score, for The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Besides these two, one other disappointment, that didn’t even make it to the Oscars, was, that Fury (2014), though an excellent war film, made with a unique sense of realism, was unfortunately, not even nominated in any of the categories. It might not have won any award anyway, but should have been nominated for it’s storyline, and various technical categories, at least, if not in the main categories (see my post The Big Screen – Films Down Under from November 2014).

Honorary & Humanitarian Awards

Hollywood legend, Maureen O’Hara; Japanese Director, Hayao Miyazaki; and French screenwriter & actor, Jean-Claude Carrière; were awarded the Honorary Awards, this year, as was the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, to singer/actor, Harry Belafonte.

With end of the month of February, Oscar Season 2015 comes to an end.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
Nuwan Sen n’ The Oscars

Also See : The 87th Annual Academy Awards

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
Nuwan Sen n’ The Oscars

A Page From History –  Rewind to 1940
A look back at The 12th Annual Academy Awards, held in February 1940.
Oscar FunctionThe 87th Annual Academy Awards, will be held tonight. Really looking forward to catching the live show (tomorrow early morning out here), to see who wins what.

So, for today’s post, I’ve decided, to travel back in time, to celebrate this years Oscars, with an insight, into the 12th Annual Academy Awards, from the ‘Year 1940’.

BEST PICTURE

The civil war epic Gone with the Wind (1939), grabbed the ‘Best Picture’ Oscar that year. No doubt the Best movie to come out of the 30’s decade, Gone with the Wind, has aged well, and happens to be amongst the best loved Hollywood classics ever, from the 120 year history, of global cinema. Gone with the Wind received 13 nominations altogether, and took home 10 Academy Awards (8 from the competition, out of the 13 nominated, plus 2 Honorary awards). Among the winners, of this highest grossing film of 39’, included:-

  • The ‘Best Director’ Oscar to Victor Fleming. Although, initially, after the script went through many a revisions, it was Director George Cukor, who started working on this project. But Cukor was fired after three weeks of shooting, due to a disagreement, regarding the film’s pace and the script, between Producer David O. Selznick and Cukor. Actresses, Vivien Leigh and Olivia de Havilland heard that Cukor was fired, while the ‘Atlanta bazaar scene’ was being filmed, the two actresses apparently went straight to Selznick’s office, in full costume, and requested him to reconsider, as the film had already been delayed by two years, due to various other problems. Then Victor Fleming, took over the reins, for most of the project. But Fleming briefly left the project due to exhaustion, and director Sam Wood, worked on the film for a couple of weeks. Soon Fleming came back to complete the picture. Thus, though Victor Fleming directed majority of the picture, about 15 to 20 percent of the direction, should be credited to Cukor and Wood, each (i.e. 30 to 40 percent of the whole film). Thus, Victor Fleming was responsible for directing about 60 odd percent of this classic film.
  • The ‘Best Actress’ Oscar to Vivien Leigh. The search for someone to play the lead character, of Scarlett O’Hara, led to 1,400 potential Scarlett O’Hara’s being interviewed. Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn, Jean Arthur, Lucille Ball, Susan Hayward, Lana Turner and Paulette Goddard, were some of actresses tested for the part. None seemed to be right to play Scarlett O’Hara. When David O. Selznick watched the British flick, A Yank at Oxford (1938); an excellent film, related to sports and sportsman, starring Robert Taylor, in the lead; O. Selznick felt the British actress Vivien Leigh, was an excellent actress, but too British to play O’Hara. Yet Leigh was given a series of screen tests to do, and Voilà!! O. Selznick found his O’Hara.
Hattie McDaniel became the first African-American ever, to be nominated and, to win an Academy Award.  She bagged the Oscar for BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS for her incredible performance as ‘Mammy’ in Gone with the Wind (1939)

Hattie McDaniel became the first African-American ever, to be nominated and, to win an Academy Award. She bagged the Oscar for BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS, for her incredible performance as ‘Mammy’, in Gone with the Wind (1939) NSFS

  • The ‘Best Supporting Actress’ Oscar to Hattie McDaniel. Hattie McDaniel became the first African-American ever, to be nominated and, to win an Academy Award. Olivia de Havilland, from this same epic tear jerker, too, was nominated, in this same category.
  • The ‘Best Screenplay’ Oscar to Sidney Howard. Sidney Howard died in August 1939, thus became the first person to garner a posthumous Oscar nomination and win.
  • The ‘Best Cinematography (in Colour)’ to Ernest Haller & Ray Rennahan.
  • The ‘Best Art Direction’ to Lyle Wheeler.
  • The ‘Best Film Editing’ to Hal C. Kern & James E. Newcom.
  • An ‘Honorary Award’ to William Cameron Menzies. The production designer and art director, was acknowledged for his outstanding achievement in the use of colour, for the enhancement of dramatic moods, in the production of Gone with the Wind.
  • The ‘Technical Achievement Award’ to Don Musgrave and Selznick International Pictures. Which was yet another ‘Honorary Award’, for pioneering in the use of coordinated equipment, in the production Gone with the Wind.

Added to these 10 trophies, Producer David O. Selznick, was also given the ‘Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award’ for his body of work, which includes this epical classic. Gone with the Wind was the highest-grossing film of all-time, back then, and remained so until, 1965, when The Sound of Music (1965), displaced Gone with the Wind, as the highest-grossing film of all-time. When adjusted for monetary inflation, it is still the most successful film in box-office history, till date. Added to which, Gone with the Wind, set records for the total number of Oscar wins, and nominations, at the time.

This, almost four hours long, timeless masterpiece was also nominated for; ‘Best Actor’ to Clark Gable, Gable lost out to Robert Donat, who won for Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939), a movie I haven’t watched, thus can’t judge, but Gable’s, now famed, role of Rhett Butler, is definitely Oscar worthy; ‘Best Special Effects’, but lost out to a movie called The Rains Came (1939), am bit surprised here, though I haven’t watched The Rains Came, am aware that Gone with the Wind has some exceptional visual effects for it’s time, sans modern day CGI, especially the ‘Burning of Atlanta’, the scene in which Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara escape the burning city, saving three more lives, is so realistic, that the technique used, is till date, one of the most impressive feats in film history, Gone with the Wind was actually a breakthrough in special effects, at the time, despite that, it didn’t bag the Oscar for ‘Best Special Effects’, a pity; ‘Best Original Score’, which went to Herbert Stothart for The Wizard of Oz (1939), The Wizard of Oz is a brilliantly colourful children’s movie, with marvellously rhythmic music, but again, the superb background score by Max Steiner for Gone with the Wind, is unforgettable, and one can just drift off listening to the brilliant score, thus I feel Gone with the Wind, at least deserved two more wins, for ‘Best Special Effects’ and ‘Best Original Score’; ‘Best Sound Recording’, and lost out to a love story called, When Tomorrow Comes (1939), another film I haven’t seen.

Acting Duo, Husband & Wife to be, Laurence Olivier & Vivien Leigh.

Acting Duo, Husband & Wife to be, Laurence Olivier & Vivien Leigh.

Other films nominated in the ‘Best Picture’ category, included some amazing movies, after Gone with the Wind:-

  • William Wyler’s brilliant adaptation, that was Wuthering Heights (1939), which was based on one of my favourite novels, spanning three generation, that I studied in school (Grade 8) when I was 13 years old, authored by Emily Brontë. Watched this movie, over a decade ago. Love the movie, almost as much as the book, besides the fact that a whole generation is missing in the movie. The film is still brilliant on it’s own. Nominated for 7 Oscars altogether; including for ‘Best Director’, ‘Best Actor’ to Laurence Olivier, and ‘Best Supporting Actress’ to Geraldine Fitzgerald; Wuthering Heights, won an Oscar for ‘Best Cinematography (in Black & White)’ to Gregg Toland.
  • Ninotchka (1939), a hilarious comedy, where Greta Garbo plays a very rigid Russian woman, (i.e. the Soviet Union back then, under Joseph Stalin), with a lack of sense of humour, who is sent to Paris, France, on official business and learns to laugh and what true happiness is. The tag line reads ‘Garbo Laughs’. She also falls in love with the city, the free spirited and romantic Parisian society (pre-World War -II), and of course a handsome Count (played by Melvyn Douglas). Besides for ‘Best Picture’, Ninotchka, was nominated for 4 Oscars, including a ‘Best Actress’ nomination for Greta Garbo’s hilarious performance. Ninotchka was banned in the Soviet Union, at the time. Watched this a decade ago as well.
  • The much loved children’s classic, The Wizard of Oz (1939), I watched when I was about 14. A little too late for me to enjoy, as I found it pretty childish at the time, but none the less I realised it was an excellent film for kids. Nominated for 13 awards, it won 2 Oscars, for ‘Best Original Score’ (as mentioned above) and ‘Best Original Song’ for the song ‘Over the Rainbow’. Then child actress, Judy Garland, won a special award, ‘Academy Juvenile Award’, for her exceptional performance as little Dorothy, in The Wizard of Oz.
Laurence Olivier & Vivien Leigh at the 12th Annual Academy Awards, held on the 29th of February, 1940

Laurence Olivier & Vivien Leigh at the 12th Annual Academy Awards, held on the 29th of February, 1940 (They married later that year) NSFS

OTHER AWARDS & FILM NOMINATIONS

Only Angels Have Wings (1939), is a movie I got to study, back 2002, in my first semester, for the module ‘Film Analysis’ (where we analysed films of director, Howard Hawks), for my MA in International Cinema (2002-2003), University of Luton, Luton, UK. Only Angels Have Wings is a very good emotional drama, though not a great movie, starring Cray Grant, Jean Arthur and Rita Hayworth. This Hawks/Grant aviation classic, was nominated in only 2 categories, ‘Best Cinematography (in Black & White)’ and ‘Best Special Effects’, and won neither.

OSCARS 1940 The 12th Annual Academy Awards

OSCARS 1940
The 12th Annual Academy Awards (NSFS)

Thomas Mitchell won the ‘Best Supporting Actor’ Oscar for Stagecoach (1939). A famous John Ford directed western (for which Ford was nominated), with John Wayne in the lead, that am yet to watch. Stagecoach also bagged the Oscar for ‘Best Musical Score’. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), another much loved classic, am yet to see, won an Oscar for ‘Best Original Story’. James Stewart was nominated for ‘Best Actor’, as well as Frank Capra, for ‘Best Director’, for this film.
American actor/screenwriter/film director/producer, Douglas Fairbanks, who died in December 1939, was given a posthumous ‘Honorary Award’, as well, for his contribution to the international development of the motion picture industry, as the very first President of the Academy. Douglas Fairbanks had hosted the very first Oscars Ceremony in 1929.
GWTW OscarThe 12th Annual Academy Awards, was held on the 29th of February, 1940, at a banquet, in the Coconut Grove, at The Ambassador Hotel, Los Angeles, USA. Hosted by Bob Hope, this was the very first Academy Award function, Hope hosted. Bob Hope altogether ended up hosting the Oscars, a total of 19 times. I haven’t seen this show (obviously again as I didn’t, nor did my parents still, exist back then), but would love to check it out, some day. Yet I watched a few scenes from the show; online, on Youtube; including the celebrity guests arriving for the function, a very young Mickey Rooney presenting young Judy Garland with the special award, and Hattie McDaniel’s touching humble speech, paying credit to her ‘‘race and the motion picture industry’’, when she made history by winning the ‘Best Supporting Actress’ trophy.

GONE WITH THE WIND (1939) – Best Picture. Winner of 10 Academy Awards.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
Nuwan Sen n’ the Oscars

P.S.  Also see my previous post 50 years ago – At The Oscars.

I got to watch only two movies on the big screen, during my travels in Australia. Here are couple of my quick critiques.

Logan Lerman & Brad Pitt, in a scene from FURY (2014)

Logan Lerman & Brad Pitt, in a scene from FURY (2014)

Fury in Adelaide
On the 6th of November 2014, I got to watch Fury (2014) at the Palace Cinema in Adelaide, Australia (See my post Holidaying in South Australia).

A very unique fictional insight into the last year of the actual second World War. The audience gets to spend one long day with Brad Pitt, Logan Lerman, Shia LaBeouf and their crew, mostly confined into a war tank. The movie starts off by showing us the credits in an indirect, more naturalistic, manner, with the word ‘Fury’ painted on the shaft of the Tank.

Towards the final days of the war, in April 1945 (the war ended in September 1945), a new young recruit, Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman) joins the crew of the tank named ‘Fury’, commanded by Don Collier, a.k.a. ‘Wardaddy’ (Brad Pitt). In a blink of an eye, the inexperienced, young and innocent, Norman is thrown into the chaos of war.

The movie is very beautifully and realistically filmed, as if filmed in real-time, with a video camera planted inside a war tank. The ‘Tiger 131’ tank used in the film was a genuine ‘Tiger I’ tank, and that too the only operating one in the world. It was loaned by ‘The Bovington Tank Museum’, in the United Kingdom, for the film.

The characters may seem a bit clichéd, as we’ve seen a number of films based on WWII since the actual war itself. But this does go beyond to show various sadistic homicidal characters, who aren’t the enemy, but on the good side, the side that brought an end to the gruelling war. Americans. Even they are shown as being heartless and insensitive themselves. Contradicting to that we see a German soldier who actually saves the young American, Norman’s life, in the movie. After all they were human too and acting on orders. Without painting a Good or Bad picture directly in Black and White, we see an ambiguity of various shades of grey within the American characters, including Wardaddy. Contrasting to the almost inhumane crew, Norman’s naïvety is as fresh and clean as a bar of lime based soap for the filthy crew. The inexperienced Norman obviously doesn’t fit in.

The perfect movie sequence (as mentioned by another blogger, Righteous Cinema, with whom I agree with) is the nerve wrecking scene with the two innocent German women, and the nasty filthy crew members of ‘Fury’ harassing them. Of course, it’s implied, that one of the women gets screwed by young Norman (or rather is made love to), consensually from both parties. Most probably that idea was a necessity, more cinematically, to calm the audience in a tense movie, rather than for Norman to get laid. It’s after this implied sex, that the rest of the gang of ‘Fury’, except for Wardaddy, applaud Norman’s manhood, and degradingly treat the two women, objectifying them. A sequence where we, the audience, feels disgust towards the American soldiers, who’ve supposedly come to save the country from a brutal war, instead behaving like animals and treating innocent victims of war as their own rightful property to use and abuse as they feel like. It could also be a hint on current American soldiers based in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria (though they aren’t engaged in battle anymore). Of course this doesn’t depict every single American soldier, current or back in the day. This is just a generalisation of what any human being of any country at war is capable of. As at the same time we see a kind hearted, humanitarian, personality, in young Norman. And a man principals who doesn’t condone their animalistic behaviour towards the women, through Wardaddy.

Norman’s kindness and purity, contrasting to the rest of crew, touches one’s heart. We feel really sorry for this out of place youngster. Yet we see him turn from an innocent, unwilling to commit murder, into braver soldier, who ends up crazily shooting at the enemy war tanks. Towards the end it does feel a tad silly, when the enemy comes marching in, and Wardaddy refuses to leave his, immobilised, old tank, and the little group tries to fight off hundreds and hundreds of men of opposition. Yet it’s so brilliantly filmed that it felt as if it were based on a true story about a young mans experiences on his first day at war.

It might not seem like a perfect film, but what film is that great to perfection without a single flaw. Thus my rating is still a 10/10 for Excellence in story telling. This was my first experience of Logan Lerman on the Big Screen. Have been a fan of his, since I watched Meet Bill (2007) almost six years ago, on DVD. And have watched so many films of his on DVD. Prior to Meet Bill, I had seen quite a few films of his as child star, but I didn’t know him back them, nor did I realise all those films had the same child artiste in them.

Fury, amongst the best of 2014. Excellent !!!!! 10/10!!!!!    

Matthew McConaughey explores the icy deserted lanscape, in the poster of INTERSTELLAR (2014)

Matthew McConaughey explores the icy deserted lanscape, in a frozen alien planet, in the poster of INTERSTELLAR (2014)

Interstellar @ Chatswood
I watched Interstellar (2014) at the Hoyts,  in Chatswood’s Westfield (Chatswood is a suburb in Sydney’s Northshore), Australia, on the 10th of November, 2014 (See my post Holidaying in Australia (NSW)).

Interstellar (2014) is as visually a spectacular viewing, as it is thoughtful and intellectually stimulating. One of the best fictitious Science-fiction films set in Space since Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Christopher Nolan, a genius in filmmaking, has brought out something exceptional out here. Like it’s Kubrick predecessor, Nolan has brought out a fictional story set in space, that explores far beyond the reaches of time and space, than man could ever imagine possible. Beyond the universe of black holes, and through the wormholes, combining together special effects artistry with intellect, as previously only Kubrick had brought about. Why do I specifically keep calling it a fictitious flick set in space, ‘cause it’s not a necessity that a movie on Space exploration be just a fabrication of a directors imagination. Apollo 13 (1995) was a near excellent movie experience, set in space, and based on a true incident.

2001: A Space Odyssey was a surreal masterpiece of the science fiction genre, set in space. I specifically state ‘set in space’, for there are rare great science-fiction and surreal films like, Metropolis (1927), A Clockwork Orange (1971) and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), to name a few, that are not set in space. Post 2001: A Space Odyssey, only the animated Wall-E (2008) and Gravity (2013) came up to it’s standard of being an exceptional fictitious film, set in space.

Christopher Nolan has brought out some excellently intellectual cinematic experiences, when he started out, with films like Following (1998) and Memento (2000). And the near excellent, The Prestige (2006). But when the CGI bug hit him, he seems to be serving up the masses, rather than the cerebral usage classes. I wasn’t a fan of his ‘Batman’ films, except for his second instalment, The Dark Knight (2008), which was pretty good, especially thanks to Heath Ledger’s (posthumously) Oscar winning performance as the ‘Joker’. The only other recent movie of Nolan’s, that I want to watch, and am still waiting to do so, is the psychologically driven, Inception (2010).

I don’t want to really mention the story of Interstellar here, ‘cause it’s better to just go in and experience and try to understand the film. It has some really interesting characters played by Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, David Gyasi, Jessica Chastain, Matt Damon, Casey Affleck, Wes Bentley and Topher Grace. It’s a pity Chastain’s character hardly has much time to develop as Murph, especially since her character development transpires more as the younger Murph, played by little Mackenzie Foy. Same with her brother Tom, played by Timothée Chalamet (as the teenage version), and later by Casey Affleck. But Tom’s development isn’t as much of a necessity as is Murph’s. Nor is there much of relevance when it comes to characters played by Wes Bentley and Topher Grace. But the person’s whose talent seems most wasted in the film, is the negative shaded character played by Matt Damon. Nolan could have directed a lesser known personality, who can still act well of course, than waste somebody who’s capable of delivering so much more to a project.

None the less the film is an exceptional experience both visually and psychologically. British theoretical physicist and cosmologist, Stephen Hawking, would be proud. I really wonder what Stephen Hawking’s would have to say about this flick.

Definitely the best space age and futuristic film to come out in recent years. And no doubt a director’s movie. I predict an Oscar nomination coming Nolan’s way. Christopher Nolan should at least get an Oscar nomination, if not necessarily a win, for this movie.

Interstellar, the best science fiction film of 2014. Excellent !!!!! 10/10!!!!!  

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
Nuwan Sen’s War Film Sense
Nuwan Sen and Science Fiction  

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Judging the film by the titles.
Doesn’t matter whether I love these movies or not, I love these interesting film titles. They sound pretty cool.
Film Titles
I took part in a poll on IMDB, about favourite film titles. In two parts, it asked us to select our favourite film title, pre-1975 & post-1975. For pre-1975, I chose A Clockwork Orange (1971) as my favourite title, and for post-1975, I chose Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) as my favourite title. For overall favourite title I chose A Clockwork Orange, of course. See their polls as well Run-Off: The Best Film Title EverRun-Off: The Best Film Titles Part I & Run Off Poll: The Best Film Titles Part II.

Have your ever loved the title of a movie, but not necessarily the film? Let me know your favourite film title, from a literary sense. I love most of the 100 movies listed below, some more than others. But the list is mainly to do with my favourite film titles, some are based on novels, plays etc etc.. that I happen to love too. There might be many a films I’ve missed out, as I’ve narrowed this down to just 100 films out of the zillion that exist. Feel free to add, and let me know your favourite title of a film, not your favourite film, unless of course they are one and the same.

A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)

To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

Fiddler on the Roof (1971)

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Anne of the Thousand Days (1969)

A Room with a View (1985)

Thank you for Smoking (2005)

Woman in the Dunes (1964)

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf ? (1966)

Chariots of Fire (1981)

Catch Me If You Can (2002)

Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002)

The Last Emperor (1987)

Gone With The Wind (1939)

Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)

Breakfast on Pluto (2005)

Y Tu Mamá También (2001)

The Lady Vanishes (1938 & 1979)

36, Chowringhee Lane (1981)

Last Tango in Paris (1972)

La Mala Educación (2004)

Through a Glass Darkly (1961)

The Triplets of Belleville (2003)

The Great Gatsby (2013)

The Sheltering Sky (1990)

I Heart Huckabees (2004)

1947 Earth (1998)

3:10 to Yuma (2007)

Carnage (2011)

Heat and Dust (1983)

Dr. Strangelove: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

The Year of Living Dangerously (1982)

Caesar and Cleopatra (1945)

Rebecca (1940)

Casablanca (1942)

Anna Karenina (1935 & 2012)

Cleopatra (1963)

Malèna (2000)

The Knife in the Water (1962)

Double Indemnity (1944)

Zwartboek (2006)

The Namesake (2006)

Good Will Hunting (1997)

Jules et Jim (1962)

Muqaddar Ka Sikandar (1978)

The Cider House Rules (1999)

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress (2002)

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Interview with the Vampire (1994)

No Country for Old Men (2007)

A Passage to India (1984)

The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934 & 1956)

The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976)

The Americanization of Emily (1964)

Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

Shakespeare Wallah (1965)

Saving Private Ryan (1998)

West Side Story (1961)

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

The Pelican Brief (1993)

Roman Holiday (1953)

City Lights (1931)

A Few Good Men (1992)

12 Angry Men (1957 & 1997)

Salaam Bombay! (1988)

Silkwood (1983)

Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)

The 39 Steps (1935)

The Thirty-Nine Steps (1978)

Charlie Wilson’s War (2007)

Singin’ in the Rain (1952)

Life of Pi (2012)

The Iron Lady (2011)

To Sir, with Love (1967)

My Fair Lady (1964)

Sleeping with the Enemy (1991)

Metropolis (1927)

Paris, Texas (1984)

Erin Brockovich (2000)

Chinatown (1974)

Hideous Kinky (1998)

Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Brief Encounter (1945)

Tess (1979)

Modern Times (1936)

WALL-E (2008)

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)

Trainspotting (1996)

The Rainmaker (1997)

Easy Rider (1969)

The Sound of Music (1965)

Doctor Zhivago (1965)

Latter Days (2003)

The Sheik (1921)

Notting Hill (1999)

Dans Paris (2006)

Wilde (1997)

This is not in order of my favourite films; as I like Breakfast at Tiffany’s more than A Clockwork Orange, and Gone With The Wind more than both of them put together, and Roman Holiday, which happens to be my all time favourite movie is no.63 in the list; but in order of my favourite titles, of unique names, that tend to have a nice ring to them. Would like to hear about your favourites.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
Nuwan Sen’s Film Title Sense

From the setting of the 1300’s Verona, performed at the Curtain Theatre in Shoreditch, and the Globe theatre, London, to the setting of the 1950’s New York, on the Broadway stage, NY, and West End, London, and onto Hollywood’s celluloid. Romeo and Juliet to West Side Story.

West Side Story Main

Rachel’s Theatre Reviews and The Rosebud Cinema are co-hosting ‘The Stage to Screen Blogathon’; for which I chose to write about the musical, West Side Story (1961).

From the Stage to the Big Screen
In 1957 Broadway staged a musical, West Side Story. A modern, mid-1950’s, adaptation of the much loved tragic play about pre-teen innocent love by Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet was conceived between 1591 and 1595, and set in Verona, Italy, in the 14th century). Then in the beginning of the 60’s decade, the movie version, set in the mid-50’s itself, was released, West Side Story (1961). Of course I haven’t seen the stage version, only the movie. The original Broadway and West End runs were before I came into existence, from 1957 to 1960, but I haven’t seen any latter versions either. But would love to if I get a chance. Not many Hollywood versions of stage shows tend to be that great, but West Side Story (1961) is an excellent Hollywood adaptation.

Starting off it’s so beautifully filmed. After the colourful overture, with a screen littered with vertical black lines, of varied sizes, that almost looks like musical notes, which transforms into the skyscrapers of Manhattan, the film zooms from an aerial shot of the city into the darken alleys in the day time, where the Jets are watching boys playing with a ball. Soon we see the rivalry between the two clans of the ‘Jets’ (Caucasians/Americans) and the ‘Sharks’ (Dusky/Latin-Americans/Puerto Rican immigrants), a bunch of out-of-work/school teenage/young adult rowdy boys, who have nothing better to do other than fight each other, for no specific reason, other than racial hatred. Then, as most people know the plot of Romeo and Juliet, Boy-Tony Wyzek (Richard Beymer), of the Jets, meets Girl-Maria Nuñez (Natalie Wood), of the Sharks, by chance at a dance, fall instantly in love, which worsens the rivalry between the two groups, who fight, in which, Tony’s best friend, Riff Lorton (Russ Tamblyn) accidentally gets knifed by Maria’s brother, Bernardo Nuñez (George Chakiris), and in turn, the angered Tony kills Bernardo, in the spur of the moment, and has to hide as the Sharks wow to avenge the death of their leader, Bernardo. More misunderstandings occur when Bernardo’s girlfriend, Anita del Carmen (Rita Moreno) visits the Jets. At the end, the tragedy differs, from the Shakespearean tale, as only one of the lovers’ dies, by getting shot, leaving the other to a lonely life of misery. With this innocent death, the two sides resolve their differences, and start to get along, but at what cost.

West Side Story Pix

It’s a great modern adaptation, with excelled direction and choreography by the famed classical and contemporary ballet dancer, Jerome Robbins (co-directed by Robert Wise), with the rhythmic background music composed by Leonard Bernstein. Love the songs, the dances, the music, the cast, the great sets, the art décor, the cinematography. It all blends in beautifully bringing out a masterpiece of Cinematic history. So far as exceptional dancing sessions are concerned, the two people to watch out for are the two supporting characters, George Chakiris and Rita Moreno. Love the dance off at the neighbourhood dance function. The matching and fitting purple/black outfits worn by Chakiris and Moreno add to the seductive movements. Love the song and dance, ‘America’ on the roof, the same night. The movie has some other great songs like the romantic ‘Maria’, the very comical ‘Gee, Officer Krupke’ and the deep and rowdily calming ‘Cool’, to name a few.

Unfortunately the DVD I have (another movie brought down from the States), isn’t in the original widescreen format, the film was released in, but a television edit with the two sides cut off. I don’t see why they should have cinemascope films (film released since 1953) in academy ratio anymore. After all most people who own a television set, and a DVD player, would have a widescreen television in their homes. Of course most people with a lot of money and no common sense have widescreen televisions and no idea how to use them. Thus they distort an academy ratio picture to fit the widescreen with disastrous results. And worse they wonder why vehicles looks unnaturally elongated and people disproportionately fat, stretched and short. I prefer to watch a widescreen movie as a widescreen movie, but if the picture format shown is a television edit (in Academy Ratio), I wouldn’t stretch it to fit the screen, nor zoom it, cutting off the top and bottom of the picture. After all, the cut off sides aren’t going to magically appear. So as I said, I had to watch West Side Story, in academy ratio, a television edit. I would love to watch the widescreen version someday.

Original vs. Modern Adaptation
The best modern adaptation of a Shakespearean play, for me, happens to be Kenneth Branagh’s very stylish flick, Hamlet (1996), which was brought forward from 16th/early 17th century Denmark to 19th century Denmark. A glamorous upscale adaptation, spoken in the original text, of Shakespearean English, yet believably transformed 200 odd years into the future. The greatest modern adaptation I’ve seen till date. Kenneth Branagh is a superb director, more so when it comes to modern adaptations of Shakespeare. For example, films like Much Ado About Nothing (1993) and As You Like It (2006). I also enjoyed Michael Hoffman’s modern adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1999). When in comes to the tragic love story of Romeo and Juliet, no doubt West Side Story happens to be best modern adaptation I’ve seen so far, and there have been quite a few. Like Romeo + Juliet (1996), set in the 1990’s in Shakespearean English, it’s the worst adaptation I’ve seen so far, but not among the worst movies ever. Yet it was pretty bad film. It didn’t work for me at all. Then there was the Bollywood adaptation, Josh (2000), for which the basis was more West Side Story, and less the original Romeo and Juliet. Josh was a moderately OK take on the Shakespearean classic. More recently there was Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela (2013) (see my post Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela: A Pleasant Surprise) a near excellence venture set in a fictional Indian village. Which I watched earlier this year and blogged about it, as well, back then (Press on the link above). And there might be so many more versions of this tragic romance. Of course this is when it comes to modern adaptations about the doomed lovers. When it comes to an original adaptation, i.e. set in the 14th Century Verona, out the ka-zillion big screen ventures that exist, the best, and my favourite, happens to be, Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet (1968), starring Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey.

West Side Story Pix - on the sets

Awards
West Side Story won 10 Academy Awards, out of the 11 nominated. It won Oscars for ‘Best Picture’, ‘Best Director’ to Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise, ‘Best Supporting Actor’ to George Chakiris, ‘Best Supporting Actress’ to Rita Moreno, ‘Best Cinematography’, ‘Best Art Direction’, ‘Best Costume Design’, ‘Best Film Editing’, ‘Best Original Score’ and ‘Best Sound’. West Side Story was also nominated for ‘Best Adapted Screenplay’, but lost out to Judgment at Nuremberg (1961). Added to this, Jerome Robbins received a special award for ‘Brilliant Achievements in the Art of Choreography on Film’.

West Side Story (1961) is one of the best musicals ever made. It’s aged well and among the greatest classics ever made. Excellent!!! 10/10.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

stage to screen blog

Thank you Rachael, of Rachel’s Theatre Reviews, and Rosie, of The Rosebud Cinema, for starting this Blogathon and letting me work on West Side Story (1961). I really enjoyed being part of the Stage to Screen Blogathon.

Cheers
Nuwan Sen

For my own Blogathon, I decided to work on the famous/infamous 60’s piece of satire by Stanley Kubrick, Dr Strangelove: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), made at the height of the cold war, about an accidental American nuclear mission to blow up the then communist Soviet Union (USSR).
Dr. Strangelove pix 3The plot
Dr Strangelove: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb was made and set at the height of the cold war, a time when there was no actual physical warfare, but political and military tensions arose between the communist countries of the Eastern bloc and the Western powers (NATO headed by the United States); hence known as the Cold War. A crazed general, Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden) secretly orders a surprise nuclear attack on Russia (USSR). Everyone, from the President of the United States, President Merkin Muffley (Peter Sellers) to General Ripper’s aid, RAF exchange officer, Group Captain Mandrake (Peter Sellers again), fruitlessly try to stop the bombing. A bombing which may cause a Doomsday scenario, ridding the entire planet Earth of it’s inhabitants. Which is a fact confirmed by, the very sinister looking, Dr. Strangelove (Peter Sellers yet again), the President’s advisor. Thus ensues a hilarious battle of the wits.

'The War Room'

‘The War Room’

The Art Décor
The set designs are beyond impressive. Especially the ‘War Room’ at The Pentagon in Washington D.C. (Arlington County, Virginia), USA, where the President and his men discuss how to avert the impending crisis. The room is so well designed, futuristic in style (also remember the movie was made at the height of the Space Age, which brought about an important facet towards the Cold War), it feels like a space station. And supposedly when actor Ronald Regan became the President of the United States in 1981, he had wanted to see the ‘War Room’, which existed in the movie, Dr. Strangelove. Alas!!! was he disappointed to find out that such a thing didn’t exist.
Added to that, the interiors of the flight is very impressive, as is the mirrored bedroom of Miss Scott (Tracy Reed) and the offices at the Air Force Base. Though set in the States, this British-American film was entirely made in England, United Kingdom.
Besides the art décor, the cinematography is an added bonus with beautiful aerial shots of snow capped mountains to the ice bergs on the ocean floor.

PETER SELLERS TRIPLE ROLE Top Left: as President Merkin Muffley Bottom Left: as Dr. Strangelove Right (Top & Bottom): as Captain Lionel Mandrake

PETER SELLERS TRIPLE ROLE
Top Left: as President Merkin Muffley
Bottom Left: as Dr. Strangelove
Right (Top & Bottom): as Captain Lionel Mandrake

Trio of Sellers
Peter Sellers does a triple role of three very varied characters in Dr Strangelove.

(i) Sellers plays President Merkin Muffley, the President of the United States, the only serious character is this dark comedy. Ironic, considering the fact that Sellers is known more as a comedian than a serious actor. Though President Merkin Muffley is a very serious character, with a slight (non-comical) cold, his tongue in cheek name suggests otherwise. The bald president is named  Merkin, and a merkin is actually a pubic wig. Added to that he does have some interesting dialogues, like “Gentleman, you can’t fight in here. This is the War Room”. Peter Sellers improvises a lot of his dialogues with the three characters he plays.

(ii) Sellers plays Captain Lionel Mandrake. This the most recognisable Sellers character, as a Brit, serving the British crown and country. Added to that his appearance, with his famous moustache intact, he feels more Peter Sellers than any of the other characters he plays.

(iii) Last but not the least, Sellers plays Dr. Strangelove, the presidents scientific advisor, an ex-Nazi scientist. Most probably recruited through ‘Operation Paperclip’, through which many a German scientists, technicians et al, from Nazi Germany and other countries, were brought into the United States, post World War – II, for employment beneficial to the United States. Dr. Strangelove is the most intriguing character, as the name suggests. His actual German name happens to be Dr. Merkwürdigliebe, which he apparently changed to it’s literal English meaning, i.e. Strangelove, when he became an American citizen. He is a proper avant-garde sinister character with a disability. We see the menacing Dr. Strangelove to be wheelchair bound, which adds to his sinister character. Sellers modelled this character after the character of ‘Rotwang’ from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927), my favourite silent film without sound, and my favourite film from the Roaring 20’s. Adding to the appearance of this disturbing character, Sellers is seen wearing one glove, a black glove that belonged to director Stanley Kubrick. Recognising the connection to Lang’s work, Sellers borrowed one of Kubrick’s black gloves, which he felt naturally menacing. Dr. Strangelove is by far the best interpretation of a evil comical genius by Sellers in the movie. The character has a unique German accent that adds to his threatening appearance. And the character slowly losing the control of his gloved hand, due to ‘diagnostic apraxia’ or ‘alien hand syndrome’, a rare neurological disorder that causes hand movements without a person having control over it’s actions, adds to the hilarity of the situation at hand (Pun intended).

'Dr. Strangelove'

‘Dr. Strangelove’

The rest of the lead Cast & the characters they play
Besides Sellers, George C. Scott is hilarious as the very childish, immature and the heavily bellied, General Buck Turgidson. His surname itself suggests his pompous and pretentious personality. He also has false pride and a fake sense of patriotism, which finds him jubilant at the prospects of bombing down the communist nation.

Sterling Hayden is superb as the eccentric, paranoid, extremist, ultra-nationalist. His charcter genuinely believes in a conspiracy theory by the communists to impurify the “precious bodily fluids” of Americans, through Water fluoridation. Apparently it’s a Russian conspiracy to pacify people so that they would easily trust authority. The name Jack D. Ripper is an obvious synonym to the notorious Jack the Ripper of 19th Century England (London).

Major T. J. “King” Kong, Piloting the Air Force flight, was initially to be played by Peter Sellers himself, but was replaced by Slim Pickens, once Sellers, who had been reluctant at first at the work load anyway, sprained his ankle and could not work in the cramped cockpit set.

Keenan Wynn as a clueless Colonel Bat Guano, with a permanent horrified look on his face, is funny character himself. One interesting scene is, when he has to shoot off a coca cola machine in the bullet riddled Air Force building, he initially refuses stating it’s “private property”.

Also check out a young James Earl Jones in his debut performance as a Lieutenant Lothar Zogg, the B-52 bombardier.

'Miss Scott'

‘Miss Scott’

Sexual Connotations
The movie is filled with some really interesting sexual innuendoes via man made devices portrayed in very suggestive modes. One of the best sexual imagery is right at the beginning, as the credits role in. One plane is shown fuelling another, with very romantic music going on in the background. It literally looks like two flying insects mating up in the air. Could be a metaphor on the two heads of states trying to get on well together, a bit too intimately, during a crisis. Then there is a bomb falling towards it’s orgasmic end, with a man riding on it, waving his cowboy hat. Pretty homoerotic, to see a man riding a phallic shaped object hurling downwards. It’s hilariously intended to look overtly sexual, and apparently Stanley Kubrick confirmed it.
Ironically the bikini clad Tracy Reed (in her introductory role), as General Turgidson’s secretary and mistress, the only female character in the entire male oriented movie, is the least sexual impression in Dr Strangelove, besides her semi-nude centrefold, aptly nicknamed ‘Miss Foreign Affairs’, shown through a Playboy magazine.

Screening Delay
A private screening of the film was scheduled for the 22nd of November, 1963, the same day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. The film was just weeks from its scheduled premiere. But due to the assassination the release was ultimately delayed until January 1964.

Award Nominations
The film was nominated for four Oscars. For ‘Best Picture’, ‘Best Director’ to Stanley Kubrick, for Peter Sellers a ‘Best Actor’ nomination, and ‘Best Adapted Screenplay’ for Stanley Kubrick, Peter George and Terry Southern. The movie won none. After all My Fair Lady (1964), well deservedly garnered the top three awards; for ‘Best Picture’, ‘Best Director’ for George Cukor, and a ‘Best Actor’ win for Rex Harrison; that year. And the historical epic Becket (1964), definitely deserved the award for ‘Best Adapted Screenplay’.

None the less, Stanley Kubrick’s Dr Strangelove: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) is among the greatest movies ever made. And it’s definitely worth checking out.

My Rating
Excellent !!!!! 10/10.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
60's c

60's dTo my fellow Bloggers,
Do check out my previous post The Essential 60’s Blogathon. There is still time to take part in this blogathon, if you are interested.
Thanking you
Yours sincerely
Nuwan Sen